A petition was today filed in the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to the Speaker to appoint Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha, contending that "no illegality can be perpetuated on the ground of precedents when law of the land is clear". The petition, which is likely to be heard next week, said the Speaker of the House should strengthen the institution in appointing the mandatory post of LoP.
The plea also sought direction to the Ministry of Law and Justice to follow "mandate of law" by recognising LoP in the 16th Lok Sabha. The petitioner, an advocate by profession, also sought quashing of the statement of first Speaker of Lok Sabha, which rules that a party needs 10 per cent member strength to be the main opposition party. The petitioner, Imran Ali, in his PIL said that the issue of appointment of LoP is to be read with the provision of the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977. "Section 2 of the 1977 Act defines the LoP of each House as the leader in that House of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength. Therefore, a person who is the leader of the greatest numerical strength is to be declared as a Leader of the Opposition," he said.
It said, "The Respondent no2 (Speaker) is not following the mandate by recognising LoP and insisting for 10 per cent seats in Lok Sabha is nothing but a 'fraud on power' vested with her (Lok Sabha Speaker). "Such an act is not bonafide but to achieve an end design on behalf of the ruling party, which for the political mileage would not let other party come on scene," the plea alleged. It further said that the Lok Sabha Speaker "insisting for 10 per cent seats" is illegal and "no illegality can be perpetuated on the ground of precedents when law of the land is clear on face of it".
Earlier, on August 8, the Supreme Court had dismissed the similar petition, seeking that the LoP status in Lok Sabha be granted to Congress party. The Supreme Court, however, last week agreed to interpret Leader of Opposition (LoP) provision for the purpose of appointment of Lokpal in which LoP is a selection committee member and asked the Centre to make its stand clear within two weeks, saying the legislation cannot be put in "cold storage". Congress, as the second largest party in the Lok Sabha with 44 seats, has been making a strong bid for the LoP post.
The ruling BJP has opposed it saying the Congress does not have the requisite 10 per cent seats (55 seats), to stake claim and questioned why Congress did not give LoP status previous seven times when it was in power. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has rejected Congress' demand for being accorded the status of Leader of Opposition.