Guwahati High Court puts stay on de-recognisation of Debabrata Saikia as Opposition Leader

Tanvi Sinha

The Guwahati High Court declared a stay on the removal of Congress Member Debabrata Saikia from his position as Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Assam State Assembly.

This comes after Mr. Saikia filed a writ petition contending an order released on 1st January by the speaker of the house, Hitendra Nath Goswami, where his position as LoP was contended.

This news comes after two Congress MLAs shifted to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the party which forms the current government in Assam.

On the occurrence of this, the Congress party numbers became 1 member short of being in a position to numerically hold Opposition in the 119 member assembly right now.

This in turn led assembly officials to declare that the present strength of the Congress was not equal to the number required by law (1/6th of the total number of members of the house) and made for a situation where they could not constitute opposition in the house anymore.

Mr. Saikia contended in his writ petition via his lawyer that, he fulfilled the provisions of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business that was required of him and as a LoP in the Assembly according to the Assam Legislative Assembly Act 1978, it made him entitled to remain in the position.

Congress in fact claimed a political angle behind this, stating that the speaker, belonging to BJP had a BJP biased agenda behind this and that this was done with a political motive ahead of assembly elections which would likely be held in April-May 2021.

The High Court thereby passed a stay order and stated, “Prima facie the order contained in the notification dated 01-01-2021 of the secretary, Assam legislative assembly withdrawing the recognition of the petitioner Debabrata Saikia as the leader of opposition would be unsustainable, both on law as well as on facts.”

The court further issued notifications to the Speaker, Secretary, and Principal Secretary of Assam Assembly returnable within two weeks.

The Judge also stated in his order that the material to prove Mr. Saikia not the leader of INC Assam is null and hence satisfies them to say that Mr. Saikia is the leader of the opposition and therefore, declared the speakers’ orders unsustainable on law and on facts.