Supreme Court refuses to restrain 12 Madhya Pradesh rebel Congress MLAs from ministership

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A Madhya Pradesh Congress legislator’s plea in the Supreme Court to restrain 12 defected Congress lawmakers to continue as ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government was rendered infructuous on Wednesday, after the recent by-elections to 28 seats allowed these MLAs to contest afresh on BJP ticket.

A three-judge bench led by CJI SA Bobde dismissed the petition filed by Vinay Saxena, an MLA of the Indian National Congress (INC) from Jabalpur (North) constituency. The petition was filed in March, at a time when the disqualification petitions against 22 rebel Congress MLAs (including the 12 legislators in question) was pending action with the Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh assembly.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Saxena, informed the court that it was unfortunate that despite the petition being filed in March, delay in hearing rendered it infructuous. “Those who ought to have been disqualified, no action has been taken even as matters are languishing in courts against their disqualification,” Sibal said. This was not the lone case, he added, pointing to similar pleas languishing in the apex court against defected legislators in Goa, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Twenty-two Congress MLAs who switched sides to join the BJP led to the downfall of the Kamal Nath government in the state in March.

“Time is sought by both sides. Even you ask for adjournment,” CJI Bobde remarked, pointing to Sibal.

Bye-elections to 28 vacant seats in the state were held on November 3, the results of which will be declared on November 10.

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