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After the Supreme Court passed an order this month restraining Manipur MLA Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh from entering the Assembly, the Speaker of the House has finally decided to disqualify the former State Minister.
On Saturday, Speaker of the Assembly Y Khemchand Singh finally decided on the disqualification petitions against TS Singh, which had been pending for over two years. Singh now remains disqualified under thre Tenth Schedule of the Constitution for defection, until the end of the current term's life.
The Supreme Court had earlier restrained Singh from entering the Manipur Assembly and had declared that he would cease to be a Minister forthwith. This order was passed after an extension of time was sought, despite granting four weeks' time to the Speaker in January to take a decision on Singh's disqualification.
By way of background, the election for the Manipur Legislative Assembly was conducted in March 2017. The elections produced an inconclusive result, as none of the political parties were able to secure a majority. TS Singh initially contested as a candidate from the Congress party and was duly elected as such.
Immediately after the declaration of the results, Singh, along with various BJP members, met the Governor of the state to stake a claim for forming the government. Three days later, the Governor invited the BJP to form the government in the state. On the same day, Singh was sworn in as a Minister.
The Supreme Court had taken note of the fact that as many as 13 disqualification petitions were pending against Singh, some of which were field as far back as 2017.
After the Court exercised its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 142 and stripped Singh of his Ministership and restrained him from entering the Assembly, a decision by the Speaker came to be taken.
Singh had contended before the Speaker that the allegation of defection would not apply to him, given that he switched allegiance from the Congress to the BJP before having taken the oath, and that he was not a sworn legislator at the time of the defection.
Citing Article 170 of the Constitution, this argument was rejected. The order, in this regard says,
Singh further also claimed that there was no whip issued at the time barring any MLAs from extending support to the BJP CM candidate and in the absence of the same, his disqualification under the Tenth Schedule would be inappropriate.
The Speaker found this claim to be wholly fallacious and misconceived, given that the Congress party had not authorised Singh, who contested the election on a Congress party ticket, to extend support to the BJP for government formation and that the same was his voluntary action.
Singh had also claimed that he did not voluntarily give up membership of the Congess party, but was rather expelled for a period of six months. This argument was also found to be "erroneous" and unsustainable by the Speaker in light of the undisputed facts of the case.
The Speaker therefore rejected the arguments made by Singh and disqualified him as an MLA from the Assembly till the end of the present term.
Senior Advocate N Ibotombi represented the petitioners before the Speaker. Senior Counsel HS Paonam appeared for the TS Singh.