The Supreme Court was told on Thursday by the Solicitor General of India that the Governor of Manipur will make a judgement shortly on the Election Commission of India's view regarding the disqualification of 12 BJP MLAs from the Manipur Assembly over the "office of profit" issue.
Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India, gave the assurance before a panel of Justices LN Rao, BR Gavai, and BV Nagarathna.
The panel was hearing a writ suit filed by D. D. Thaisii, a Congress MLA from Manipur, who sought disqualification of these 12 MLAs on the grounds that they were holding "profitable offices" as Parliamentary Secretaries.
When the case was scheduled for hearing, the sitting judge of the bench, Justice L Nageswara Rao, instructed the Solicitor General to utilise his good offices to get the money.
"In January, an opinion was given by the Election Commission. According to Article 192(of Constitution), the Governor has to go with the decisions. In 11 months nothing has happened. We don't want to pass an order but please your good offices so that opinion is given so that they can be challenged," Justice Rao told the Solicitor General.
"I assure we'll do something and no direction will be required to be passed," Solicitor General replied.
On November 9, the Supreme Court orally said that the Governor of Manipur cannot wait to act on the Election Commission of India's opinion regarding the disqualification of 12 BJP MLAs from the Manipur Assembly over the "office of profit" issue.
This comment was issued by a bench consisting of Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai, and BV Nagarathna after observing that the Governor had failed to act on the Election Commission's January 13, 2021 opinion.
The petitioner's senior advocate, Kapil Sibal, had argued that the Governor could not leave the decision waiting. He had mentioned that the assembly's tenure was coming to an end in a month.
Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who was representing one of the respondents, argued that the Election Commission's finding was binding on the Governor under Article 192 of the Indian Constitution.
"Opinion of EC is binding on the Governor. Only 1 month is left. You cannot challenge the decision of the Governor. You cannot attack the opinion of the EC," Senior Counsel had further submitted.
There have been situations, according to Justice Rao, where the Court has pushed the Governor to make a time-bound judgement.
The judge cited the instance of the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convict Perarivalan, in which the Tamil Nadu Governor was delaying a judgement on the State Government's proposal for his sentence to be commuted. The case was subsequently postponed until today when the Solicitor General would appear.
According to the writ suit, 12 members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries for the State of Manipur.
The offices of the Parliamentary Secretary for the State of Manipur are profit-making offices, since the stated appointment elevated the 12 members of Manipur's Legislative Assembly to the level and status of Minister of State, as well as allowing them to receive greater salaries and allowances.
The petitioner had argued that the 12 members of the Legislative Assembly who were appointed and accepted appointments as Parliamentary Secretaries occupied Office of Profit and thus automatically incurred disqualification under Article 191 of the Indian Constitution and are not entitled to continue as Members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly.