The Supreme Court on Monday said that a House must have a leader of opposition as it asked the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council chairman’s office to file its response on a plea moved by a Samajwadi Party (SP) MLC.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala observed, “A House must have a leader of opposition”.
The remarks of the bench came after advocate MS Dhingra, appearing for UP Legislative Council chairman’s office, sought time to file the reply.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on May 1.
Samajwadi Party (SP) MLC Lal Bihari Yadav in his plea has challenged an Allahabad High Court order that upheld the withdrawal of his recognition as the leader of opposition.
On February 10, the top court had agreed to hear Yadav’s plea and issued a notice to the office of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council chairman, whose notification dated July 7, 2022 withdrew the petitioner’s recognition as the LoP.
Yadav had submitted that the LoP is the leader of the single-largest opposition party in the House.
The top court had said, “What we have to see is whether there is any restriction provided under the statute that the leader of the opposition will be the one from the party having a certain number of seats.” In the 100-member House, 90 are elected and 10 nominated.
The notification from the House chairman’s office says the LoP will be from a party that enjoys at least 10 per cent of the total strength of the House.
Yadav has said in his arguments that the SP should get the LoP post as it has nine members which is 10 per cent of 90 elected members. The government has opposed his argument, saying it should be 10 per cent of the total strength, and a party with at least 10 members is eligible to get the post.
On October 21 last year, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had dismissed Yadav’s plea that had challenged the notification issued by the principal secretary of the legislative council, de-recognising him as the LoP.
The high court had said in view of the prevailing law, Yadav did not have an inalienable right to be appointed or to continue as the LoP.
It had said the Uttar Pradesh State Legislature (Members’ Emoluments and Pension) Act, 1980 does not prescribe any mechanism for recognising an LoP.
“The chairman of the Vidhan Parishad was not bound to be guided only by the criterion of recognising the leader of an opposition party, which has the greatest numerical strength. The rules provide for discretion of the respondent no.1 (legislative council chairman) to recognise and/or de-recognise a leader of opposition,” it had said.
According to the petition, Yadav was elected as an MLC in 2020 and designated as the LoP in the Legislative Council on May 27, 2020.
But the Legislative Council Secretariat de-recognised him as the LoP when the SP’s strength in the House fell short of 10 — the minimum number of members required for the largest opposition party to get the post.
Yadav has pleaded that the principal secretary’s decision was “illegal and arbitrary”.
He has sought a direction to stay the operation of the July 7, 2022 notification by which his recognition as the LoP in the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council was withdrawn.
The SP leader has also sought the quashing of the notification.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)