Article 142 Current Affairs - 2020

First Time: Supreme Court removed a state minister over Disqualification petition

On March 18, 2020, for the first time in its history, the Supreme Court removed the Manipur Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh from the state cabinet. The apex court has also been restrained him from entering the Legislative assembly.

What is the issue?

Mr Shyamkumar won the 2017 assembly elections on Congress Ticket and switched over to BJP to become the minister of Town Planning, forest and Environment. Disqualification petitions were filed against him to the speaker by the other MLAs. The Disqualification petitions against the minister was pending before the speaker of the Manipur Assembly since 2017. However, no action has still been taken. When the issue was appealed to SC, the apex court has invoked Article 142 and has removed the minister from the cabinet.

The SC also said that the speaker is to act as a tribunal in cases of disqualification petition under the tenth schedule.

Article 212

According to the Article 212, the courts in India including Supreme Court cannot interfere in the proceedings of the Legislature of state. No members, officers of the state are subjected to jurisdiction while exercising his duties or regulating procedures, maintaining order.

This has been over ruled by SC in this matter invoking Article 142. This is because, the matter was left unsolved. Also, under Anti-Defection law, the winning members cannot shift parties. Such members according to the law are considered disqualified.

Article 142

The Supreme Court under the article 142 can pass an order doing “complete justice” to matter pending before it.

SC Verdict: Foreigners Tribunal decision will prevail over NRC

The Supreme Court of India has held that a Foreigner Tribunal’s order declaring a person as an illegal foreigner will be binding and will prevail over government decision to include or exclude name from National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

Key Highlights

  • Argument: The SC bench constituted of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and SC Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna unanimously distinguished between decisions of NRC) and of foreigners tribunals and upheld that the tribunal’s order being the quasi-judicial one will prevail.
  • Verdict: As per SC the persons whose names are not included in NRC in Assam can produce documents including ones related to their family tree and thus seek review of tribunal’s decision. As per SC it cannot create an appellate forum for those, declared as illegal foreigners by the foreigners tribunal, by using its power under Article 142 of Indian Constitution.
  • Outcome: If the name of a person, included in NRC in Assam is deleted on ground that he was a foreigner, then principle of ‘res-judicata’ (a judicially decided issue cannot be re-agitated) would apply on decision taken by foreigners tribunal. Thus a person who has been declared an illegal immigrant cannot seek re-decision (right of appeal) against exclusion or dropping of his name in normal circumstances.

About Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 1964

  • The order was passed by Government of India (GoI) under section 3 of foreigners Act, 1946.
  • The GoI can constitute foreigners tribunals whenever required to look into question of whether a person is or not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Tribunals act, 1946.
  • The Foreigners tribunal shall consist of persons having judicial experience as government may think fit to appoint.
  • It has powers of a civil court while trying a suit under code of civil procedure, 1908. It includes summoning any person, requiring any document and issuing commissions for examination of any witness.