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Resolution dated 05.07.2021 under which 12 Bhartiya Janata Party Member of Legislative Assembly who was suspended by the for a year by Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, due to “indisciplined and unbecoming behaviour resulting in maligning the dignity of the House” [1]were finally granted relief by the apex court, The 3-judge bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar, along with Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, JJ has held that the said resolution is ultra vires the constitution, irrational and grossly illegal as the extent of suspension period beyond the remainder time frame of the concerned ongoing session. Entitlement for all benefits of consequential nature of being members of the Legislative Assembly was protected by the house resultantly, subsequently till the expiry of the period of the concerned Session in July 2021.[2]


Principal Opposition Party in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the Bhartiya Janata Party MLA’s were the ones who were suspended. The Ruling Party is a post-poll coalition of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Indian National Congress, and the Shiv Sena after the midnight government formed by the current Leader of Opposition and Deputy Chief Minister did not survive. Ferociously aggressive arguments between the members of the Opposition Party and the Ruling Party were witnessed by the house and people watching live telecast too due to an impression formed by the former that the business of the House was being conducted unilaterally, to suppress the voice of the Opposition Party with conscious and engineered effort was witnessed by the House on 5th of July. Not just the MLAs of the 105 member-party were not allowed to speak but even the Leader of Opposition was denied an opportunity to speak on a crucial motion which was then under consideration[3]. The House was presided over by the Chairman nominated under Rule 8 of the MLA Rules, as alleged by the petitioners, they were denied an opportunity to the Opposition Party to speak including to the Leader of Opposition[4].

A resolution for initiating action against 12 MLAs of the BJP for having committed contempt of the House was then moved by the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shri Anil Parab. The motion was tabled in the House and the Chairman was called upon to vote. House was called by the Chairman to pass the said resolution. The House passed the said resolution by majority votes after it was put to vote at 14:40 hours on 5.7.2021. [5]

Critical observations by the Apex Court

Assembly’s decision could not be called irrational in the absence of constitutional limits on its power to suspend as argued by Mr. Sundaram, appearing for the Maharashtra government the Bench noted that even if express limits did not exist, the Assembly was limited in the exercise of its powers by the ‘spirit of parliamentary law’. The most important observation came from Justice C.T. Ravikumar that unlimited powers to suspend could be misused by governments with slim majorities to suspend opposition members for long periods, skewing the House’s decisions. Adding to the said aforementioned observation Khanwilkar J stated that the purpose of suspension was to maintain decorum in the Assembly and any suspension beyond the ongoing session would be prima facie unreasonable. “This is the popular sentiment gaining ground amongst the common man[6]. It is disheartening for the observers,” Justice A M Khanwilkar observed. The bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar penned down that the impugned resolution by which suspension of the petitioners beyond the period of the concerned Monsoon session held in July 2021 is “non est in the eyes of law, nullity, unconstitutional, substantively illegal and irrational”[7]

One of the benchmarks to be observed by the Speaker is the approach predicated in Rule 53 of the MLA Rules is to enable him to ensure smooth working of the House without any impediment, circumvention, or obstruction and for keeping the mutinous member away from the House for a period maximum up to the remainder of the entire Session. Excessive deprivation would be considered not only unreasonable but also bordering on obstinacy. The established legal procedure was flagrantly disregarded, as well as being arbitrary, illogical, and unconstitutional, in violation of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Due to the unessential deprivation of the member in question, and more crucially, the constituency would remain unrepresented in the Assembly, such suspension would be in breach of basic democratic ideals. It would also affect the democratic system by allowing the current government’s slender majority (coalition government) to manipulate the Opposition Party’s numbers in the House in an undemocratic manner[8]. Not only that, but the Opposition will be unable to meaningfully participate in House debates and discussions due to the continual threat of their members being suspended for an extended length of time. There would be no purposeful or meaningful arguments, only one in terror and according to the majority’s whims. This would be detrimental to democracy as a whole. “Indeed, the constituency cannot have any right to be represented by a disqualified or expelled member. However, their representative cannot be kept away from the House in the guise of suspension beyond the necessary (rational) period linked to the ongoing Assembly Session, including the timeline referred to in Article 190(4) of the Constitution and Section 151A of the 1951 Act.” Long or excessive suspension, even if not caused by the part, would place an undue burden on the constituency’s right to be addressed in the House by their suitably chosen public at large. As a result, it is a harsh action that goes beyond the House’s limited inherent powers and focuses on imposing a penalty rather than a disciplinary or corrective measure.[9]

The court also commented on Parliament and legislative assemblies in an epilogue to the verdict. “Becoming more and more intransigent”[10]. It bemoaned “the philosophical tenet, one must agree to disagree, is becoming a seldom seen or a rarity during the debates”[11].According to the court, it was “high time” to take corrective action. To “restore the glory and the standard of intellectual debates of the highest order”[12]. “For becoming world leaders and self-­ dependent/reliant, quality of debates in the house ought to be of the highest order and directed towards intrinsic constitutional and native issues confronting the common man of the nation/states, who are at the crossroad of semi­-sesquicentennial or may we say platinum or diamond jubilee year on completion of 75 years post-­independence”. The bench remarked, “Are expected to show statesmanship and not brinkmanship”. The bench said the case “has thrown up an occasion for all too appropriately denounce and discourage proponents of undemocratic activities in the house, by democratically elected representatives”.


Not just this abovementioned judgment but also the observations made during the hearing needs careful consideration throughout the states. The customs and practices followed throughout shall not be political in any way. Once the representative of the people enters the house, he/she shall leave his political identity outside on the doorstep and shall be in the role of Statesman. Mere political stunts in the house are just a waste of precious time of the house, but also a waste of taxpayers’ money. On the other hand, the ones who vote shall also be held accountable for not questioning their representative as to how many and what questions were run down by them. The judgment was a message not just for legislators but also for the voters to give them a wake call as to what is needed and what is being done.

Author(s) Name: Satyajit Balasaheb Pawar

[1] Resolution No.S-4 GSS/AKN/SST/05/07/2021 ()

[2] Ashish Shelar v. Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 105 [2022].


[4] Ashish Shelar v. Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 105 [2022].

[5] Resolution No.S-4 GSS/AKN/SST/05/07/2021 ()


[7] Ashish Shelar v. Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 105 [2022].