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Gauhati High Court has put an interim stay on the Assam Assembly Speaker’s notification which had derecognised Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and Nazira MLA, Debabrata Saikia as the Leader of Opposition.
The Speaker had withdrawn the recognition of Saikia as Leader of the Opposition after two Congress MLAs quit to join the ruling BJP, reducing the grand old party’s number of lawmakers to 20, one less than the 21 needed to have one-sixth of the total members of the Assembly.
According to the official notification (dated January 1, 2021) issued last week, the Opposition Congress does not have the requisite one-sixth House strength in the 126-member Assembly to hold the post of Leader of the Opposition.
Saikia had, following the development, moved the High Court seeking its intervention.
Saikia’s advocate Satyen Sarma in his submission before the court said that an MLA holding the position of Leader of the Opposition needed to fulfill two requirements.
“Firstly, one has to be the leader of the largest recognised party that is the party having the greatest numerical strength in the Opposition. Secondly, the MLA concerned has to be recognized as the leader of the largest recognized Opposition party by the honourable Speaker,” Sarma stated.
He added that Saikia fulfilled both these requirements, and since the notification under challenge did not withdraw his recognition for non-fulfillment of these requirements, “he is still legally entitled to remain the Leader of the Opposition."
The High Court further issued notices returnable within two weeks to the secretary and principal secretary of the Assam Legislative Assembly, along with the state chief secretary.
(Edited by Christopher Gatphoh)