Congress demands President to ensure Manipur governor performs constitutional duties

Imphal: A team of Congress leaders headed by AICC in-charge (Manipur) Bhakta Charan Das, Manipur PCC president Govindas Konthoujam, CWC member Gaikhangam met President of India Ramnath Govind and submitted a memorandum on the issue of the office of profit on the constitutional role of Governor in disqualification of 12 Parliamentary Secretaries.

The team through memorandum requested the President ‘either to recall or to ensure that the governor of Manipur (Najam Heptulla) performs or discharges constitutional duties and obligations as envisaged under Article 192 of the Constitution of India’.

The memorandum mentioned that there were many incidents in the past where the governor of Manipur had failed to discharge her constitutional duties and obligations by completely ignoring the law laid down by the Supreme Court of India as well as established democratic and parliamentary practices.

It cited that when the last general election was held in the month of March, 2017, the Congress party emerged as the single largest party with 28 elected members, three shod of majority, and in absence of pre-poll alliance, which were not there, the largest single party ought to have been invited to form the government by following the law laid down by the Supreme Court of India in umpteen number of cases and established parliamentary practices followed invariably in all the states of the country. In a house of 60 members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, BJP which had a strength of 21 members was allowed to form government with the help of smaller parties, none of which had any pre-poll alliance before the election.

It also mentioned that Th. Shyamkumar Singh who was an MLA elected on Congress ticket, without resignation from the Congress party, was sworn in as a minister by the governor of Manipur and accordingly he was inducted as a minister in the BJP led government. Change of political loyalty followed by induction as a minister in the ministry led by rival party, incurred disqualifications as contemplated in the 10th Schedule to the Constitution of India. An application filed for disqualification of Shyamkumar remained undisposed for a pretty long time before the Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly, the matter was carried to the High Court of Manipur as well as before the Supreme Court of India for early disposal and appropriate order. After hearing the parties, the Supreme Court passed an order dated march 18, 2020 by invoking Article 142 of the Constitution of India thereby prohibiting Shyamkumar from entering Manipur Legislative Assembly and his continuation as a minister had also been stopped.

The two incidents would simply demonstrate the scenario as to how constitutional provisions and established democratic and parliamentary practices have been flouted with impunity. Of course, these two instances could not be undone now but there are many more in the cupboard, the memorandum said.

Twelve MLAs belonging to different political parties supporting the BJP led government in Manipur were appointed by chief minister N. Biren Singh in exercise of the power conferred upon him under Section 3 of the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowance and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to Act of 2012) and such appointees were given not only the status of a minister but also enjoyed financial benefits as well as other perks entitled to a minister. Subsequently, perhaps realising the legal lacuna in such appointment, a Repealing Act under the name Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, Salary and Allowance and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2018 in short, Repealing Act of 2018) was passed by the State Legislative Assembly. On challenge both the Act 2012 and Repealing Act of 2018, were declared as unconstitutional for want of legislative competence by the High Court of Manipur in several writ petitions and PILs. In other words, both were rendered as ab-initio null and void.
D.D Thaisii, Congress MLA, relying on the order of the High Court of Manipur submitted an application dated August 21, 2020 before the governor of Manipur to initiate a proceeding and obtain the opinion of the Election Commission of India as contemplated in Article192 of the Constitution of India before taking any decision. The governor was pleased to forward the application to the Election Commission of India for obtaining opinion vide forwarding letter dated August 29, 2020. Thaisii have been informed through reliable sources that Election Commission of India had already tendered their valuable opinion to the governor of Manipur in the month of January, 2021. Despite the lapse of two months’ time, the governor of Manipur has not taken any decision till date nor was any reason given for not taking the required decision in terms of Article 192 of the Constitution of India. In the meantime, life of the present Manipur Legislative Assembly will end within 11 months, the memorandum said.

Govindas said the President patiently listened to the request. “We hope the head of the nation will do justice,” he said.

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