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Ex-Punjab CM Amarinder`s expulsion unconstitutional: SC

Legislatures did not have the power to act against members for their executive action by exercising privileges, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, quashing the expulsion of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh from the state Assembly over a land scam.



New Delhi: Legislatures did not have the
power to act against members for their executive action by
exercising privileges, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, quashing
the expulsion of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh
from the state Assembly over a land scam.

"If we were to permit the legislature to exercise
privileges for acting against members for their executive acts
during previous terms, the courts are likely to be flooded
with cases involving political rivalries," a Constitution
Bench said, holding the expulsion of 67-year-old Congress
leader in 2008 as unconstitutional.

The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice K G
Balakrishnan ruled there was no breach of privilege by Singh
but rather the state assembly "exceeded its powers."

It restored the seat of Singh which was declared vacant
by the House consequent to his expulsion.

The court cautioned that if the legislature was allowed
to expel members for their executive actions, then with every
change of government, political rivals would be expelled by
the ruling party on flimsy grounds frustrating parliamentary
democracy.

"It is our considered view that the Punjab Vidhan Sabha
exceeded its powers by expelling the appellant (Singh) on the
ground of breach of privilege when there existed none. The
allegedly improper exemption of land was an executive act
attributable to the appellant and it did not distort, obstruct
or threaten the integrity of legislative proceedings in any
manner.

"Hence, the exercise of legislative privileges under
Article 194 (3) of the Constitution was not proper in the
present case," the Bench, also comprising Justices R V
Raveendran, P Sathasivam, J M Panchal and R M Lodha, said in
an 89-page judgment.

Singh was expelled from the Assembly and his seat
declared vacant from the present 13th Assembly on September 3,
2008, for "breach of privilege" after a special committee
appointed by the House held him guilty for the alleged
irregularities that took place in Amritsar when he was the
Chief Minister of Punjab.

The scam relates to grant of exemption on 32.5 acres
of land in a prime area by Singh to certain land developers
allegedly in violation of rules.

"One can conceive that whenever there is a change of
regime, the fresh incumbents would readily fall back on the
device of legislative privileges to expel political opponents
as well as dissidents. Such a scenario would frustrate some of
the basic objectives of a Parliamentary democracy," Justice
Balakrishnan writing the judgement said.

The apex court said the ideal course for the Assembly was
to set the criminal law in motion rather than exercising
the "breach of privilege" powers conferred to the state
Assemblies under Article 194.

"The proper course of action on part of the state
government should have been to move the criminal law machinery
with the filing of a complaint followed by an investigation as
contemplated under the Code of Criminal Procedure," the apex
court said.

PTI

From Zee News

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