The Manipur high court on Monday ordered that 7 former Congress MLAs, who had defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the 2017 Manipur assembly elections, cannot enter the state legislative assembly till the disqualification petitions filed against them are decided by the Speaker of the House, Y Khemchand Singh.
This comes close on the heels of expulsion of BJP minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar from the state assembly in March after the Supreme Court in a strongly worded order restrained Shyamkumar from entering the assembly and also stripped him of his ministerial post while asking the Speaker to decide a similar disqualification petition against him for defecting to BJP.
The order passed by justice KH Nobin Singh on Monday would mean that unless the Supreme Court stays the order, the 7 MLAs will not be able to cast their votes in the Rajya Sabha elections which is slated to take place on June 19 for filling the lone seat from the state to the Upper House of the Parliament.
The seven MLAs who were disqualified are Sanasam Bira Singh, Ginsuanhau, Oinam Lukhoi Singh, Ngamthang Haokip, Yengkhom Surchandra Singh, Kshetrimayum Bira Singh and Paonam Brojen Singh.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, SG Hasnain and N Ibotombi represented the Congress leaders who had filed the petition. Senior counsel HS Paonam appeared for the 7 defected MLAs.
The Congress party had emerged as the single-largest party in the 2017 Manipur assembly elections, securing 28 seats, three seats short of the majority mark in the 60-seat assembly. However, the BJP, with 21 seats, moved in to stake its claim in an alliance with the Naga People’s Front, Nationalist People’s Party and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Shyamkumar and seven MLAs had contested and won on Congress ticket before extending their support to BJP leader Biren Singh to form a coalition government.