The Supreme Court cancelled the 1-year suspension of 12 MLAs from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, who belonged to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The MLAs were accused of abusing & manhandling then presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav.
A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari & CT Ravikumar ruled that the suspension could only be limited to the duration of the Monsoon Session of the Assembly, the session in which the MLAs where suspended. The court also said that the presiding officer’s action against the lawmakers is ‘irrational’ and ‘unconstitutional’.
The petitioner Ashish Shelar, along with 11 other MLAs-Dr Sanjay Kute, Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Harish Pimple, Jaikumar Rawal, Yogesh Sagar, Narayan Kuche, Bunty Bhangdiya, Parag Alwani and Ram Satpute, were suspended from Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, on the grounds of allegedly misbehaving with the presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav at the speaker’s chamber on the first day of the Monsoon Session 2021. In their plea, the MLAs challenged the suspension, citing violation of Article 14 and principles of natural justice. According to the MLAs, they have tendered a letter of apology to the presiding officer & refuted the claims of using foul language & manhandling. They had sought CCTV footage of the incident in question, but the demand was refused by the Deputy Speaker citing house rules.
In the previous sitting, the Court described the move as being prima facie unconstitutional since such a suspension cannot operate beyond six months owing to a constitutional bar. The court also pointed out that according to the Constitution, the explicit outer limit for an MLA to be absent from his seat is 60 days, after which the seat is considered to be vacated.