The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the Parliament’s controversial expulsion of 11 Members of Parliament (MPs) caught in a media sting over the cash for query scandal and said that the expulsion was in accordance to law. The Constitutional bench voted 4-1 upholding the expulsion but the dissenting judge said that the MPs should have been tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The expelled MPs claimed that they were not given due process to defend themselves on the floor of the Parliament but the SC in its 357 page majority judgment observed that those expelled did not avail time given them by the Pawan Kumar Bansal Committee appointed by the Lok Sabha and the Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha. While their action taking cash for asking loaded questions in the Parliament is indefensible, the presumptions of innocence is required for the correct administration of law and not allow the media to conduct kangaroo or influence trials. It appears that those expelled, however rashly, were given time to defend themselves that they had not availed.
In delivering its verdict, the SC asserted its right to review Parliament’s decisions thus bunking Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s assertion that the Parliament was the supreme body of the nation. While reviewing the Speaker’s speech in the Parliament, the SC panel observed that it could not find anything wrong with his statements but said that since India followed the Westminster model of governance of the United Kingdom, it alone held the right to interpret the Constitution. Writing the majority judgment, Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal wrote "Parliament is a co-ordinate organ and its views do deserve deference even while its acts are amenable to judicial scrutiny." Chatterjee did not agree with the SC’s assertion on its right to review Parliamentary decisions but welcomed the ruling on the MPs saying that the ruling was “a message to all legislators” that they “have to be role models” and their “conduct should be exemplary.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which objected to the expulsion accepted the ruling saying that they found closure. The BJP had objected to the nonchalant dismissal of due process to the MPs—most of whom were from that party. Their acceptance of the ruling is seen as an reversal of positions. The BJP ducked questions on whether it would support a criminal prosecution of those expelled.