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The Court refused to entertain the plea on the ground that the issue of appointment of Leader of Opposition would fall within domain of the Lok Sabha Speaker.
The Court further added that since there was no statutory requirement for appointment of a LoP, there was no reason to entertain the PIL.
The plea was disposed of with the observation that the Lok Sabha Speaker was capable to draft a policy to govern the appointment of LoP.
The matter was listed for hearing before a Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and C Hari Shankar.
The petition was preferred by advocates Manmohan Singh and Shishmita Kumari to enforce the statutory rights under the Salaries and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 with respect to the post of the LoP in the Lok Sabha.
It was premised on the fact that although the new Lok Sabha has come into existence, the speaker has “refused to recognise a leader of the opposition even though the Congress was the largest party in the opposition.”
As noted in the petition,
“… the new Lok Sabha, with 52 members, the Congress is the largest party in the opposition and is, therefore, the rightful claimant to this post under the law. There is no ambiguity about it as the law is absolutely clear on this point.”
It was claimed that the procedure for recognising the Leader of Opposition is well laid down under the 1977 Act.
“On a request being made by the numerically largest party in the opposition that its designated leader be recognised as the leader of the opposition, the speaker, after the request is examined by her or his secretariat, accords recognition to that person.”
The petitioner had thus argued that the notion that the Congress would not get the post since its strength in the Lok Sabha is less than 10 % of the total number of MPs in the house is devoid of any merit.
Stating that recognizing the Leader of Opposition is not a political or arithmetical decision but a statutory decision, the petition claimed that the speaker has to merely ascertain whether the party claiming the post is the largest party in the opposition.
“There is no room for any ambiguity or discretionary powers vested with the respondent in appointment of the LoP… since the speaker is performing a statutory duty in recognising the leader of the opposition, she or he cannot exercise any discretion in the matter. No power of discretion is vested in the speaker in the matter of recognising the leader of the opposition.”, it is stated.
Thus claiming that the leader of the largest opposition party on the floor of the House is entitled to the position of the Leader of Opposition under the 1977 Act, the petitioners sought a direction to the Speaker to issue an order to enforce the same.
The petition also sought a direction to the Speaker to frame a policy for the appointment of LoP.