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Somnath can continue as speaker: Experts

July 23, 2008 21:18 IST

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The decision of the Communist Party of India-Marxist to expel Somnath Chatterjee [Images] from the party will not come in the way of his continuing as the speaker of the Lok Sabha, say constitutional and legal experts.

The speaker's post is a constitutional post and is not subject to a whip issued by any political party, the experts said unanimously.

"The expulsion from the party does not affect his position as speaker unless he himself chooses to resign. He can be removed by the Lok Sabha only," former secretary general of Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap said.

Echoing a similar view, former law minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan said, "The Lok Sabha and only the Lok Sabha and can get rid of the speaker."

On being asked as to whether defiant Chatterjee, who was on Wednesday expelled by the CPI-M in the wake of his refusal to quit the post before the trust motion, should resign from the post on moral grounds, experts said the decision of the party has no bearing on him continuing as speaker.

"Not at all. The House had elected him. How come the decision of the party would bind a person holding a constitutional post?" said Bhushan.

Describing the decision of CPI-M to expel the veteran leader as "unfortunate", senior advocate P N Lekhi said once an MP is elected as a speaker he ceases to the member of any party.

"Generally speaking, it is very unfortunate and an abuse of common sense. Whatever might be the constitution of a political party, when a person becomes the a speaker he is no longer a member of that party," he said.

Referring to the speech made by Dr Rajendra Prasad in the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, Lekhi said "We have borrowed the power and privileges on the model of the British Parliament where the speaker is above the party."

"The CPI(M) has acted in violation of constitutional convention established over 300 years ago," he said.

Chatterjee, 79, was expelled on Wednesday by the politburo of the CPI-M by invoking Article 19 (13) of its constitution on the charge of "seriously compromising" the party position.

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