The Calcutta High Court on Monday granted time to the West Bengal Assembly Speaker to file affidavit-in-opposition by May 2 on a petition by Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari and four other BJP MLAs challenging their suspension from the House for the remaining period of the session for alleged misconduct.

Two other BJP MLAs, who had also been suspended from the House on an earlier date during the same Budget session, had moved a separate petition before the court and a similar order directing the Speaker to file affidavit-in-opposition was passed.

Justice Rajasekhar Mantha directed the Speaker to file separate affidavits-in-opposition in connection with the two petitions stating his position by May 2. The court also directed that the petitioners may file their reply to the Speaker's affidavit by May 4. Justice Mantha directed that both the matters will be taken up for hearing again on May 5.

Claiming that the order of Speaker Biman Banerjee was illegal, Adhikari and the four other MLAs' advocate submitted that it is contrary to the Rules and Procedure for Conduct of Business in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

He also claimed that the suspension for the remaining period of the session of the House is excessive and disproportionate to the misconduct found against the petitioners.

Advocate General S N Mookerjee, appearing for the Speaker before the court, sought time to file the affidavit-in-opposition to bring on record certain facts with regard to the issue.

By a motion of the House on March 28, which was forwarded by communication of March 31 by the Assembly secretary, Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, along with BJP legislators Dipak Burman, Shankar Ghosh, Manoj Tigga and Narahari Mahato have been suspended for the remaining period of the session.

It has been specified that the expression "Session would mean the entire period of the Assembly until it is prorogued by orders of the governor", Justice Mantha noted.

In the other petition, BJP MLAs Sudip Mukherjee and Mihir Goswami, who had been suspended from the House on March 9 for the rest of the Budget session for alleged misconduct on March 7 during the governor's address to the Assembly on its inaugural day, a similar order was passed by the court. In this matter also, the AG sought time to file an affidavit-in-opposition to bring on record certain facts.

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With PTI inputs