"Appointment of Chairman of PAC has bearing on Executive Accountability": PS Narsimha argues in BJP MLA Ambika Roy's plea challenging BJP turncoat Mukul Roys appointment as Chairman
The Calcutta High Court on Friday asked BJP MLA Ambika Roy to file written submissions in the plea challenging Mukul Roy’s appointment as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
When the plea came up for hearing today, the State of West Bengal raised a preliminary objection on the ground that the petition was barred by Article 212 of the Constitution and it should be filed on the adversarial side instead of filing it as a PIL because the petitioner was a sitting MLA.
Senior Advocate PS Narsimha, appearing for Ambika Roy on the other hand argued that the appointment of the Chairman (Mukul Roy) had a bearing on executive accountability. In this context, he added that the bar envisaged under Article 212 is not attracted as the appointment was done exclusively by the Speaker and that it has nothing to do with the procedure of the house.
Mr. Narasimha also cited E. Sivakumar (2018) 7 SCC 365 to oppose the preliminary objection that a member of Legislative Assembly cannot file a PIL (ref: para 15 of the judgment).
The case will now be taken up on August 9, 2021.
The plea asseverates the "constitutional values are being compromised" by the said appointment as "Mr. Mukul Roy despite winning West Bengal Assembly elections from Krishnanagar Uttar Constituency as a member of BJP, defected, as soon as the results were declared, to the present ruling party All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) without resigning from the BJP or his Membership from the Assembly."
The petition states that in gross violation of the Rules of Procedure and Business of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, Mr. Mukul Roy filed his nomination papers for the membership of the PAC, without BJP’s support and even without disclosing his party- affiliation in the nomination form. Soon after he was elected as a member, the Speaker of the Assembly nominated him for the Chairmanship of the PAC.
Therefore, his appointment as the Chairman of the PAC defies the sole purpose of establishing PAC that is to ensure an impartial and independent scrutiny of the spending of the Government, the petition states.
The petition further reads that since the constitution of the fourth legislative assembly of West Bengal in 1967, it has been a constitutional convention that a leading member of the opposition would be chosen as the Chairman of the PAC and this nomination of Mr. Mukul Roy, who has defected after winning the elections, constitutes a gross violation of Constitutional ethos.
Under Article 266 and 283(2) of the Constitution of India, State Government is the custodian of the Consolidated Fund of the State. The State Government takes its spending from this Fund only. To ensure that sums taken from the Consolidated Fund are legally spent, PAC is vested with power to examine accounts of the money spent by the Executive.
To ensure the objectivity and impartiality of the PAC, the members are elected based on the proportionate representation of all the parties of the assembly and it has been a custom in case of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly that the Chairman of the PAC would be the leading member of the opposition in the House to ensure that Executive remains responsible to the Legislature.
Putting emphasis over the fact that it is the constitutional obligation of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to ensure that only people who exhibit an abiding spirit for constitutional ethos and values are elected for PAC, the petitioner has stated that the appointment of Mr. Mukul Roy as the PAC chairman, who has purportedly committed his allegiance to the government soon after the election results were declared, defeats the very purpose of having a committee like PAC.
It is also noted in the petition that when two MLA’s from BJP filed an objection before the Speaker against nomination of Mr. Mukul Roy for the membership of the PAC, the same was rejected on a technical ground stating that the objections are not considered at the stage of scrutiny.
Therefore, the petitioner has urged the Court to quash the appointment of Mr. Mukul Roy as member and chairperson of the PAC and to issue directions to the Speaker of the House to restrain Mr. Mukul Roy from holding the post or carrying out any functions as the member and chairperson of the PAC pending the hearing and final disposal of the petition.
Case Title: Ambika Roy Vs. Hon'ble Speaker, West Bengal Legislative Assembly & Others