Patna: In a setback to Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi’s camp ahead of the floor test, the Patna High Court today disallowed four dissident JD(U) MLAs from casting their ballot in the crucial confidence vote tomorrow. The four MLAs had prayed to the court to grant them permission for voting tomorrow but a division bench of justices Iqbal Ahmad Ansari and Chakradhari Sharan Singh did not allow them.
The division bench stayed the earlier order of single bench of Justice Jyoti Sharan, which had on January 16 set aside the order of Assembly Speaker to terminate membership of the four MLAs and restored their membership.
The MLAs — Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo, Ravindra Rai, Rahul Sharma and Neeraj Singh Babloo — approached the court on the basis of the order by Justice Sharan. The order was challenged before the division bench by former Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shrawan Kumar.
They have been opposing Nitish Kumar and were working overtime in favour of Manjhi. Besides the four, the Assembly has also terminated membership of four other members who too have challenged the order in the Patna High Court.
The court also dismissed a PIL filed by Minister Vinay Bihari seeking to keep Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary away from the trust vote, which he had prayed be conducted by the Deputy Speaker. The order on the PIL was passed by a division bench of Chief Justice L Narsimha Reddy and Justice Vikash Jain.
The court said that it is the prerogative of the Speaker on how to conduct the business of the House. Bihari, who is the Art and Culture Minister in the Manjhi Cabinet, had alleged that the Speaker was ‘partisan’ and pleaded to keep him away from the trust vote.
In a third petition which was filed by BJP state General Secretary Sudhir Sharma seeking a direction to the Speaker not to grant status of opposition party to JD(U), the court today did not give any relief.
The division bench of Chief Justice Reddy and Justice Jain said such decisions should be taken on the floor of the House and not by the court.