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Indian Case Summary

Jagjit Singh vs State Of Haryana & Ors on 11 December, 2006 – Case Summary

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In the case of Jagjit Singh vs State of Haryana & Others on 11 December 2006, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a legal challenge against the disqualification of certain members of the Haryana Legislative Assembly. The disqualification orders were issued by the Speaker of the Assembly under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India. The petitioners, including Jagjit Singh, were either independent members of the Assembly or represented small political parties.

The disqualification orders were issued on 25th June 2004, just days before the Rajya Sabha elections on 28th June 2004. As a result of the disqualification, the petitioners were unable to vote in the Rajya Sabha elections. The petitioners argued that the disqualification orders were issued in haste to prevent them from voting in the elections, thereby favoring the Chief Minister, whose son was a candidate in the elections.

The petitioners also contended that the Speaker had no basis for concluding that the independent members had joined the Indian National Congress. They claimed that the disqualification orders were a result of the Speaker’s malafides.

The petitioners who belonged to political parties argued that they were entitled to the protection of paragraph 3 of the Tenth Schedule since there were splits in their original political parties. They argued that since they were single-member parties in the Assembly, their joining the Indian National Congress fulfilled the stipulation that when more than one-third members join another party, there is a split.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, noted that the Speaker, while exercising power to disqualify members, acts as a Tribunal and the scope of judicial review is limited. The Court held that the orders could be challenged on the grounds of ultra vires, malafides, or having been made in a colorable exercise of power based on extraneous and irrelevant considerations. The Court also held that the orders would be a nullity if the principles of natural justice were violated.

The Court further noted that the requirement to comply with the principles of natural justice is also recognized in rules made by the Speaker in exercise of powers conferred by paragraph 8 of the Tenth Schedule. The Court held that the question of whether a reasonable opportunity has been provided cannot be put in a strait-jacket and would depend on the fact situation of each case.

The Court, after considering the facts of the case, held that the petitioners were not denied the opportunity to present their case. The Court noted that the petitioners had filed their replies to the complaint and were asked by the Speaker to watch the video recording and point out doctoring thereof. The Court held that the petitioners had not been denied the opportunity to lead evidence and to cross-examine the witnesses.

The Court, therefore, dismissed the petitions and upheld the disqualification orders issued by the Speaker of the Haryana Legislative Assembly.