New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking direction to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to appoint a leader of the Opposition saying there is no statutory requirement for the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Harishankar said it was a matter for the Lok Sabha speaker to decide. It observed that the petitioner failed to point out the provision that the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition is a must.
The PIL had sought direction to Lok Sabha Speaker regarding the appointment of Leader of Opposition for the 17th Lok Sabha. "No Leader of Opposition is appointed by the Speaker of the House till now, despite the largest Opposition party having elected its leader," the petition stated.
The PIL was filed by lawyers Manmohan Singh Narula and Susmita Kumari.
The petition stated, "India's laws about the leadership of the Opposition are myriad and contradictory. However, they should be interpreted and clarified in a manner that provides for a leader of the Opposition at all times. Denying the second largest party in Parliament the leadership of the Opposition sets the wrong precedent and dilutes democracy. A powerful Opposition is necessary to check the power of the ruling party as dissent is extremely important for mature democracies to function properly."
"Leader of the Opposition as he is one of the key parliamentary functionaries whose role, though not defined in any rule, is of very great importance in the functioning of a legislature. He or she is invariably a senior leader representing the main Opposition party in the legislature," the petition added.
It said, "Since the speaker is performing a statutory duty in recognising the Leader of the Opposition, she or he cannot exercise any discretion in the matter. This need to be underlined again: No power of discretion is vested in the Speaker in the matter of recognising the Leader of the Opposition,"
"Recognising a member of the house as the Leader of the Opposition is not a political or arithmetical decision, but a statutory decision. The Speaker has to merely ascertain whether the party claiming this post is the largest party in the Opposition," it added.
Updated Date: Jul 08, 2019 16:06:30 IST