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A petition was moved in the Supreme Court Friday seeking directions to the Jharkhand governor to stop the “misuse of the constitution” by repeatedly administering the oath of office of chief minister to Shibu Soren despite his not being a legislator.

The petition said Article 164 (4) of the constitution was being repeatedly abused and derogated for “the convenience of the political parties”.

The petitioner, Dev Ashish Bhattacharya, said since 2000, Jharkhand has had eight chief ministers and barring Arjun Munda and Madhu Koda, the other six were made chief minister when they were not members of the assembly.

Article 164 (4) provides that “a minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the legislature of the state shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a minister”.

The operating spirit of this constitutional provision is that any person could be administered the oath of the office of the chief minister or that of a minister without being a member of the State assembly or council. Under the provision it is incumbent upon such a person to get elected to the assembly or council within six months failing which he would cease to hold the office.

The petitioner added that the Supreme Court had held that Article 164 (4) would be used only in exceptional and extra-ordinary circumstances. He said that repeated misuse has made a mockery of this provision of the constitution.

The petitioner sought the court’s direction to Soren to resign as the chief minister and ask the governor not to administer the oath of the office to either Soren or anyone else if they are not member of the state assembly.

The petitioner said in case of Shibu Soren, all three times he became the chief minister when he was not a legislator.

In the first instance, Soren was chief minister for 11 days from March 2 to March 12, 2005. Second time, for four months and 22 days from Aug 27, 2008 to Jan 18, 2009.

And in his current term, Soren took office Dec 30, 2009 and his six months would conclude June 30, 2010.

With just 40 days left, there is no likelihood of Soren getting elected to the legislature, the petition said

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