Ranchi: Speaker on Wednesday rejected the petition seeking disqualification of six MLAs on grounds of under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution and validated the merger of the Babulal Marandi-led party with BJP.
Amar Kumar Bauri, Randhir Singh (both in the cabinet), Navin Jaiswal, Janki Prasad Yadav, Alok Kumar Chourasia and Ganesh Ganjhu had contested the 2014 assembly elections on JVM-P tickets and were facing disqualification from the assembly since they joined the saffron party.

BJP had won 37 seats in the 81-member assembly while its ally Ajsu Party party had won five. A few days after the Das government took oath on December 28, 2014, the MLAs joined BJP, taking the party’s strength to 43 and reducing the party’s dependence on its ally. Marandi and JVM-P general secretary Pradeep Yadav challenged the merger of the party and filed petitions for disqualification of the defecting MLAs.

The court of the speaker in its quasi-judicial authority pronounced the final order on Wednesday, decision regarding which was reserved since December 12, 2018. Reading out a single-page order, Oraon said he gave enough time and opportunity to the petitioners and respondents to present their sides and witnesses from either side were examined.

“The interim order number 1 dated February 12, 2015 by which I found the merger of JVM-P into BJP valid under section 4(2) of the 10th schedule of Constitution, prima facie, stands validated and I allow the merger,” he said while reading out the judgment.

He added: “After going through the legalities in detail and examining the witnesses, I reached to a conclusion that the petitioners counsel could not establish that it was defection and not merger of the party. I therefore reject the petition seeking disqualification and announce the petition as disposed,” he said. Oraon said copies of the detailed judgement will soon be handed over to both the parties.

While the six legislators facing disqualification applauded the verdict, Marandi and JVM-P general; secretary were seen no where when the final order was being read out.

Janki Yadav, chairperson of the State Housing Board and now a BJP MLA, said: “We had full faith in the speaker’s court that the merger would be validated. I had chaired the meeting of the merger in December 2014 and we had analysed the provisions of 10th Schedule of the Constitution before taking a decision,” he said.

Jharkhand high court advocate Vinod Kumar Sahu, who represented the six MLAs, said it was a victory of the righteous. “It was a clear-cut instance of a merger as more than two-third of JVM-P, which had 8 legislators, had joined BJP along with many party workers and office bearers,” he said. He added that they will move the Election Commission to stop Marandi’s party from using the symbol originally allotted to JVM-P as the party has merged with BJP.

The petitioners’ counsel R N Sahay expressed disappointment over the verdict and said that they will move the high court against the order. “A final decision in this regard will be taken by the party,” he said.

JVM-P general secretary Pradeep Yadav said they are prepared to move the high court as the speaker’s court made a “partisan decision”. He said: “Democracy has been defeated as a wrong precedence has been set in the Jharkhand assembly today.”

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