A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj of the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday instructed Biman Banerjee, the Speaker of the West Bengal assembly, to settle the disqualification petition moved by BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari challenging the appointment of Mukul Roy as Chairman of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Assembly, on an urgent basis. The Court, who was hearing the plea moved by BJP MLA Ambika Roy, further instructed to submit it before the Court on October 7, the date of the next hearing.
Criticising the role of the Speaker in the issue, the bench observed, "Maximum three months period has been prescribed by Hon'ble Supreme Court for decision of any such petition, which has already expired. The objective and purpose of the Tenth Schedule is to curb the evil of political defections motivated by the lure of office, which endangers the foundation of our democracy. The disqualification takes place from the date when the act of defection took place. The constitutional authorities who have been conferred with various powers are in fact coupled with duties and responsibilities to maintain the constitutional values. In case they fail to discharge their duties within time, it will endanger the democratic set up".
"The Speaker was required to decide the petition filed before him for disqualification of the respondent No. 2 (Mukul Roy) having defected from BJP to AITC, as a result of which his membership to the Assembly itself was in doubt. In case the respondent No. 2 (Mukul Roy) does not remain the Member of the Assembly, there was no question of him being even the Member of the Committee what to talk of its chairman", the Court observed. The Court further noted that the Court has the duty to protect the constitution, and if a constitutional authority fails to efficiently discharge its duties, then the Court has all the right to intervene. It further noted that the Speaker ought to be neutral in the discharge of his constitutional duties.
Mukul Roy was appointed as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee on July 9. Roy won from Krishna Nagar North Assembly constituency on a BJP ticket but then joined the TMC without resigning as MLA or from the BJP, sparking controversy.