Decide within four weeks message from SC:
Spirit of 10th Schedule
Come back to us if the Speaker does not act within four weeks even after being asked to do so. This was the Supreme Court of India to the Congress petitioners after it had asked the Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly to decide on the fate of Forest Minister Th Shyamkumar under the Anti-Defection law within four weeks time. Other than this the Supreme Court also urged Parliament to ‘revisit the powers of the Speaker to disqualify lawmakers for defection.’ The Supreme Court also suggested that Parliament could look at setting up an independent mechanism to decide petitions under the Anti-Defection law. Focus of the people is undoubtedly on the fate of Th Shyamkumar who got elected on a Congress ticket but switched side to the BJP shortly after the 2017 Assembly election here and for this he was awarded the Forest and Environment portfolio in the BJP led Government at Imphal. Interesting to note too that before the matter reached the Supreme Court, two Congress MLAs K Meghachandra and Md Fajur Rahim had moved the High Court of Manipur but the Court, after duly noting the seriousness of the matter, declined to pass any directions on the ground that the issue regarding powers of the High Court to interfere with the Speaker’s discretion is pending before the Supreme Court. To cut a long story short, this was how the petitions of the two Congress MLAs seeking the disqualification of Th Shyamkumar under the Anti-Defection law reached the Supreme Court.
Remains to be seen how the Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly will respond to the directive of the Supreme Court, and making it all that more interesting is the fact that there are still 7 other MLAs from the Congress who are thought to be with the BJP led Government. The natural question then is, after Shyamkumar, what will happen to the seven other MLAs ? Surely interesting days are ahead, but significant to note that a compelling need to move the Supreme Court was felt for the spirit of the Anti-Defection law was thought to have been violated. A story far removed from the case of what happened at Goa just prior to the elections in Manipur in 2017. Son of a former Congress Chief Minister of Goa, Vishwajit Pratapsingh Rane after being elected on a Congress ticket, first resigned as the MLA, quit the Congress and then later contested the by election on a BJP ticket, got elected as a BJP MLA and then joined the BJP Government. This is respecting the letter and spirit of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution and compare this with what is happening in Manipur and one will get a fair idea of the difference between ethical politics and doing politics solely for the perks that come with being in power. Unethical politics and now with the Supreme Court stepping in, one hopes that Parliament will re-visit the powers of the Speaker to disqualify members under the Anti-Defection law.