Hon'ble Justice Lalit Mohan Sharma and J S Verma
Issue 6 | July 25, 2020
The Supreme Court has recently pointed out certain grey areas pertaining to the powers of the speaker in matters related to anti-defection and disqualification of the MLAs/MPs. This new stance of the judiciary was highlighted when the Hon'ble Court made the crucial observation that "The Speaker also belongs to a political party." Furthermore, bench led by Justice Nariman asserted that “It is time Parliament had a rethink on whether disqualification petitions ought to be entrusted to a Speaker as a quasi-judicial authority when such Speaker continues to belong to a particular political party either de jure or de facto.”
Thus, the recent observations made by the court questions the powers of the speaker due to the political nature of the position and threat of partiality due to the same. The same reservations were expressed way back in Kihoto Hollohan order of 1992 by Hon'ble Justice Lalit Mohan Sharma and J S Verma in their minority judgement. The Hon'ble Justices were men of exemplary vision who were able to foresee the issues arising in future as well as take them into account while dissenting from the majoritarian perspective.
They observed in their minority judgement that “The tenure of the Speaker, who is the authority in the Tenth Schedule to decide this dispute, is dependent on the continuous support of the majority in the House and, therefore, he does not satisfy the requirement of such an independent adjudicatory authority.” This was remarkably one of the earliest observations where the political nature of the position of the speaker was recognised and duly noted. Moreover, they further noted that “An independent adjudicatory machinery for resolving disputes relating to the competence of Members of the House is envisaged as an attribute of the democratic system which is a basic feature of our Constitution… [the Speaker’s] choice as the sole arbiter in the matter violates an essential attribute of the basic feature.” The same recognition concerned with the establishment of quasi judicial authority to decide the matters pertaining to defection has been made recently by the Hon'ble Supreme Court.