Why should tax-payers pay for idle MLAs: SC

Court poser to Centre on Delhi Assembly, which is in a state of suspended animation

New Delhi :  The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to take a decision on dissolution of Delhi Assembly “one way or another” within five weeks, questioning it for continuing to keep the house in suspended animation when no party is coming forward to form the government.

“One party says it does not want to form government. The other says it cannot. The third party has no strength. In such a situation, why should people suffer?” it asked.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice H L Dattu also asked as to why the MLAs should be paid salaries from taxpayers’ money for sitting idle just because the Assembly is in suspended animation.

The apex court asked Additional Solicitor General P L Narasimha to convey the “feeling” of the court on the issue to appropriate authority.

 “I think they (authorities) will take a decision,” Justice Dattu said while adjourning the plea of Aam Aadmi Party for dissolution of assembly for five weeks.

“Why should tax payers’ money be paid to legislators who are not doing anything? Authority concerned should think and act,” the bench, also comprising justices J Chelameswar, A K Sikri, R K Agrawal and Arun Mishra, said.

The Bench asked the Centre what steps it has taken to explore the possibility of government formation during the last five months. President’s rule was imposed in Delhi on February 17 with no party coming forward coming forward to stake claim for government formation after AAP government headed by leader Arvind Kejriwal resigned.

“We are not looking at a political party before us. We are looking at the Delhi citizen’s point of view…He may say he has elected a representative and he is drawing salary from taxpayers’ money and sitting idle,” the Bench said.

It, however, turned down the plea of AAP which submitted that apex court should pass an order so that elections in Delhi are held along with that of four other states later this year.

The apex court said it is for the appropriate authority to take a decision.

The petition filed by AAP sought a direction to the Lt. Governor to dissolve Delhi Assembly and hold fresh polls. It has challenged the decision to impose President’s rule in Delhi on the recommendation of LG Najeeb Jung alleging that it was done to protect Congress leaders and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from corruption charges.

The petition has said the order to impose President’s rule was “illegal, arbitrary and in violation” of Article 14 of the Constitution as after the resignation of Arvind Kejriwal government neither BJP nor Congress were in a position to form the government and they had already expressed their unwillingness in this regard.

It has further raised constitutional questions to keep the assembly under suspended animation by ignoring the categorical recommendation of the majority government of the NCT of Delhi for dissolving the House.

BJP had emerged the single largest party after the assembly polls in December last year with 32 seats including ally Akali Dal’s one MLA in the 70-member House.

BJP fell four seats short of a simple majority and had refused to form government, saying it did not have the numbers and will not resort to any “unfair means” to take the reins.

AAP with 28 MLAs had later formed the government with support of eight Congress MLAs. AAP’s strength has also come down to 27 after expulsion of party MLA Vinod Kumar Binny.

BJP’s number came down to 28 in the House in May after three of its legislators Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Pervesh Verma were elected to Lok Sabha. With the resignation of three MLAs, the strength of the assembly also went down to 67.

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