NEW DELHI: Taking up an interesting question relating to election litigation, the Supreme Court has stopped a Manipur MLA from drawing salary and allowances from the Assembly and barred him from voting while permitting him to participate in the debates in the House.
O Henry Singh was elected to the Assembly from Wangkhei constituency in 2017 elections on a Congress ticket. His closest contestant and BJP candidate Y Erabot Singh challenged his election before the Manipur HC. When the HC framed the questions of law, the Congress MLA resigned and his resignation was accepted by the Assembly. Later the HC set aside the elections of the Congress candidate and declared that Y Erabot Singh should be sworn in as MLA from Wangkhei.
Henry Singh through senior advocate Narender Hooda told a bench of Justices U U Lalit, Indira Banerjee and K M Joseph that setting aside his client’s election is one thing, but declaring Erabot Singh as winner is quite another. He argued that it cannot be said that the votes polled by Henry Singh would have to be erased from the polling and there is no guarantee that those votes would not have been cast in favour of other candidates in the fray.
Finding force in Hooda’s argument and at the same time realizing that Wangkhei constituency is now represented by Erabot Singh after he has taken oath as MLA, the bench said, “Having been sworn-in as a MLA, Y Erabot Singh shall be entitled to represent the electorate (of Wangkhei constituency) in the House and shall be entitled to participate in the debates. However, he shall not be entitled to cast any vote on the floor of the House or in any committee of the House. He shall also not be entitled to draw any monetary benefits in respect of the office of MLA.”
In doing so, the bench said, “In normal circumstances, where the election of a returned candidate is set-aside, by virtue of an interim order, certain protection is afforded to him. However, since Henry Singh had resigned from the Assembly, by virtue of an interim order (from the Supreme Court), he cannot be representing the cause of the electorate before the House.”
The bench said this interim order would remain in force till July 27, when the appeal filed by Henry Singh would be taken up for final disposal. The SC ordered a copy of the order to be sent to the Manipur Assembly for compliance.