Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought to know about the legal provision which makes it mandatory for the Speaker to appoint Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha.
“You have to draw your right from the Constitution and not from the laws made under the Constitution. You are arguing (that) LoP (Leader of Opposition) is a must in a democratic system, but where is it mentioned in the Constitution?
“Show us any provision that mandates the Speaker to recognise the Leader of Opposition,” the court said.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw posed this pointed query to the counsel for the petitioner who had a filed a PIL seeking a direction to the Speaker to appoint LoP in the Lok Sabha.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, argued that this was the not the first time that this has happened and there was no Leader of Opposition in the first three Lok Sabha terms.
“The argument that traditionally LoP has always been appointed is complete myth. There is nothing illegal or irrational on the part of the Lok Sabha Speaker in not having appointed the Leader of Opposition,” he said.
He also claimed that the petition was driven by vested interests of the petitioner who has a political agenda.
The High Court has now reserved its judgement after hearing arguments of both the parties.
The High Court was hearing a PIL by Advocate Imran Ali seeking quashing of the statement of first Speaker of the Lok Sabha, which had ruled that a party needed 10 per cent member strength to be the main opposition party.
“No illegality can be perpetuated on the ground of precedents when law of the land is clear”, the petition had said, adding that the Speaker should strengthen the institution in appointing the LoP.
The apex court had, however, earlier agreed to interpret the LoP provision for the purpose of appointment of Lokpal in which the LoP was a selection committee member. It had asked the Centre to make its stand clear within two weeks, saying the legislation cannot be put in “cold storage”.
Congress, as the second largest party in the Lok Sabha with 44 seats, has been making a strong bid for the LoP post.
Ruling BJP has opposed it saying Congress does not have the requisite 10 per cent seats (55 seats) to stake claim and has questioned why Congress did not give the LoP status seven times earlier when it was in power.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has rejected Congress’ demand for according the status of Leader of Opposition to it.