Skip to main content

Confidential AG opinion told Lok Sabha speaker in 2014: LoP can't be appointed on the basis of 1977 law

Sumitra Mahajan, Mukul Rohatgi
By Our Representative
Information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan banked on what has been described as “truncated” opinion of the Attorney General of India (AGI) while rejecting the claim of the Indian National Congress (INC) for Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the lower house in 2014.
Marked “confidential”, the AGI, Mukul Rohatgi, in his “opinion” to the Lok Sabha speaker on July 23, 2014, seeks to bank on the ruling of the first Lok Sabha speaker, GV Mavlankar, in order to point out how, till 1969, which included the “entire tenure of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and thereafter”, there was no LoP.
Rohatgi quotes Mavlankar’s "directions" to say that the LoP should have the strength “equal to the quorum required in for constituting a sitting of the House, which is one-tenth of the total number of the members in the Lok Sabha.”
Based on this, says Rohatgi, in the sixteenth Lok Sabha, constituted in May 2014, the largest opposition party, the INC, with just 44 members of Parliament MPs), did not have the “quorum” – 10 per cent of the Lok Sabha strength, 55 MPs.
Rohatgi argues, based on this "historical perspective", the speaker is “not obliged to recognize any members of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha as LoP in case the said party doesn’t the strength equal to one-tenth of the quorum required for a sitting in the House.”
At the same time, the RTI reply reveals, Rohatgi sets aside the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition Act, 1977, which defines LoP. 
The Act calls LoP as “member of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) or the House of the People (Lok Sabha), as the case may be, who is, for the time being the Leader of the House of the party in opposition to the government having the greatest numerical strength, and recognized as such by the chairman of the Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People, as the case may be.”
Rejecting the 1977 Act’s definition, Rohatgi argues, “It is obvious from the definition of LoP… that the recognition of a member as such is not governed by this Act, but such a member has to be recognized by the speaker.” 
He adds, “In other words, the issue of recognition of a member of the House as LoP is outside the purview of the Salary and Allowances of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.”
Based on this, Rohatgi says, the “speaker need not recognize a member of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha as the LoP if the largest opposition party does not have strength equal to the quorum required for a sitting of the House.”
Senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak, who obtained the “confidential” information from the Lok Sabha secretariat, says, what Rohatgi does not take into account is, “Parliament rejected the idea of fixing a quota for claiming the LOP's chair decisively” in 1977.
Says Nayak in an email alert to Counterview, after the the Salaries and Allowances of LoPs Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha on August 6, 1977, "HV Kamath, an MP of the Janata Party and belonging to one of its constituents -- the Jan Sangh -- a previous avatar of the BJP moved amendment 15 to fix one-sixth as quota of seats in the House required for any MPs to claim the LoP's chair.”
“In support of his amendment proposal, Kamath quoted Mavalankar, where a reference was made to the 10 per cent seat requirement. This amendment was decisively rejected by Janata Party MPs who were in the majority in the then Lok Sabha”, Nayak says.
“So the numerical strength argument was weighed, measured and discarded by the Lok Sabha. To insist that 10% seat quota is essential to claim the LoP's chair amounts to blatant disregard for the express intention of Parliament”, Nayak, who is with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, argues.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.