Gauhati HC stays expulsion of Congress MLA as Leader of Opposition
Guwahati: Gauhati High Court on Tuesday stayed the notification de-recognising Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia as the Leader of Opposition (LOP), stating that the notification under challenge was "unsustainable under law."
The High Court stayed the notification issued by Assam Legislative Assembly Secretariat on January 12, whereby the Leader of the Assam Congress Legislature Party, Debabrata Saikia was de-recognised as the Leader of the Opposition in the House.
Further, the court also issued notices returnable within two weeks to the Secretary and Principal Secretary of the Assam Legislative Assembly, along with the Chief Secretary, Assam.
Saikia's advocate Satyen Sarma said that an MLA holding the position of Leader of the Opposition needs to fulfil two requirements, "Firstly, one has to be the Leader of the largest recognised party, i.e. the party having the greatest numerical strength in the Opposition. Secondly, the MLA concerned has to be recognized as the leader of the largest recognized Opposition party by the Hon'ble Speaker."
Adding that Saikia fulfilled both these requirements, and since the Notification under challenge did not withdraw his recognition for non-fulfilment of these requirements, "he is still legally entitled to remain the Leader of the Opposition."
Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua noted that the Congress is indeed the largest party in the Opposition in the House, and its MLAs have the greatest numerical strength in the Opposition. Additionally, there was no material to indicate that Saikia is not the Leader of the INC Legislature Party as of today.
Further, the Judge noted that the issue of INC MLAs not forming one-sixth of the total members of the House is unrelated to recognition of Saikia as LOP as per the relevant Act and Rules.
"In such a scenario, the Honble Court was of the preliminary view that the Notification under challenge was unsustainable under law and the facts of the case. Therefore, in view of Mr. Sarma having made out a prima facie case in favour of Mr. Saikia, and considering the balance of convenience and irreparable injury which may be otherwise caused to Mr. Saikia, the Honble Court was pleased to stay the operation of the Notification," the order stated.
Congress which won 26 out of the 126 seats of the state assembly currently has 20 seats.