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Jharkhand HC asks BJP, Babulal Marandi to refer pleas to competent bench

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The Jharkhand High Court on Tuesday heard the BJP and Babulal Marandi’s plea over the hurdles in the recognition of BJP Legislature Party leader Babulal Marandi as the Leader of the Opposition in the Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha.

The single-judge bench of Justice Rajesh Shankar directed the two to file an amended petition and asked the registry to refer their amended petition to the competent bench.

Marandi was elected the leader of the BJP Legislature Party and due to this he should have got the status of Leader of Opposition in the Assembly. But Assembly Speaker Ravindra Nath Mahato, taking cognizance of the merger of Marandi’s faction of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) with the BJP, issued a notice against him under the anti-defection law.

Babulal Marandi has challenged this notice. However, his petition did not challenge the Speaker’s right to take suo motu cognizance.
Therefore, Justice Rajesh Shankar directed him to file an amended petition. Hearing the petitions of the BJP and Babulal Marandi together, the Court ordered the registry to refer it to the competent bench when the amended petition comes to it.

Senior Advocate R.N. Sahay appeared on behalf of Marandi while Supreme Court lawyer R Venkataraman put the BJP’s side before the court.

Three people (Babulal Marandi, Bandhu Tirkey and Pradeep Yadav) were elected as JVM MLAs in the Jharkhand assembly elections in November 2019. After the election, Marandi merged his faction of the JVM with the BJP, while MLAs Bandhu Tirkey and Pradeep Yadav merged the same party with the Congress.

Though the Election Commission has approved the merger of BJP with JVM, Jharkhand Speaker Ravindra Nath Mahato has not yet given the status of the Leader of Opposition to Marandi. The Speaker considered the merger of the party as a case of defection and therefore allotted a separate seat for Marandi from BJP MLAs in the assembly.

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On the other hand, the BJP said that the person whom its MLAs have chosen as their leader, should get the status of Leader of the Opposition in the assembly.

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