The Speaker of the Assembly administered oath to two Trinamool MLAs, Raj Bhavan called it constitutionally inappropriate

The Uncut

Kolkata. West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee on Friday administered oath to two newly elected Trinamool Congress MLAs in defiance of the Governor’s instructions, after which the Raj Bhavan termed it constitutionally inappropriate. The Governor had entrusted the responsibility of administering the oath of membership to both the MLAs to Assembly Deputy Speaker Ashish Banerjee. After this incident, Governor CV Anand Bose sent a report to President Draupadi Murmu, alleging that the Speaker’s actions violated constitutional norms.

According to a Raj Bhavan official, Bose wrote a letter to the President saying that the swearing-in of MLAs by the Speaker in the state assembly is unconstitutional. After the swearing-in of the MLAs, the one-day special session of the assembly was adjourned indefinitely. After the deadlock between the Raj Bhavan and the assembly for nearly a month, two MLAs – Reyat Hussain Sarkar and Sayantika Banerjee – were sworn in during the special session of the assembly. Reyat Hussain Sarkar is an MLA from Bhagwangola in Murshidabad district, while Sayantika Banerjee is an MLA from Badnagar on the northern outskirts of Kolkata.

This deadlock was about the venue of the swearing-in ceremony as well as who would administer the oath to the newly elected MLAs. In a sudden development on Thursday evening, Governor Bose had authorized Deputy Speaker Ashish Banerjee to administer the oath in the Assembly on Friday. Earlier, his stand was that the MLAs would be sworn in at the Raj Bhavan. During the special session of the Assembly, the Deputy Speaker distanced himself from the program and said, “When the Speaker is present on the chair, it is against the rules for the Deputy Speaker to administer the oath.” After the Deputy Speaker’s appeal, Biman Banerjee called both the MLAs to the House and administered the oath.

When the MLAs were taking oath, Trinamool Congress members raised slogans of ‘Jai Bangla’. Deputy Speaker Ashish Banerjee claimed that he had followed the rules of the assembly. He later told reporters, “I followed the rules of the assembly. According to the rules, if the Speaker is present in the House, I cannot administer the oath.” State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said that no rules of the House were violated.

In the afternoon, the Raj Bhavan posted on social media that a report was being sent to the President highlighting the constitutional blunder of the oath being administered by the Speaker instead of the Deputy Speaker appointed by the Governor. A statement issued by the Raj Bhavan said that constitutional violations have been committed despite the Governor’s direction. Making a clear reference to Rule 5 of the Assembly’s proceedings, the Raj Bhavan cited constitutional provisions and wondered whether any rule of the Assembly could be above this.

“It is elementary knowledge that the Constitution is above any assembly rule,” the statement said. In his letter to President Murmu, the governor also said the speaker’s action was in violation of the Constitution, a Raj Bhavan official told PTI.

In response to the Governor’s letter, Speaker Biman Banerjee said, “The Governor has no authority to dismiss me. I have already informed the President about the situation and asked him to intervene.” Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs boycotted the session, saying that the meeting was called without any prior notice. Protesting against the Governor’s stance, both the MLAs were sitting on a dharna in the assembly premises for the last few days. Their demand was that they should be sworn in by the Speaker as per the tradition of the House.

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