A day after Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan said the resolution passed by the Kerala Assembly was not legally or constitutionally valid, Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan said there was nothing unconstitutional about the resolution. “Nowhere in the Constitution has it been said that a State Assembly could not move such a resolution,” the Speaker told reporters here on Friday.
On the other hand, the Speaker said the Assembly was only upholding Constitutional values. “We are duty-bound to intervene when the Constitution is under threat. Our Constitution has clearly laid down that there should not be any discrimination on the basis of religion,” the Speaker said.
Further, he said that state assemblies had the right to respond to Central laws. “This is our opinion, and we have the freedom to express it,” the Speaker said. He described it as a moral duty. “We are witness to the national resistance against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Kerala Assembly has the obligation to express its solidarity with the idea of India for which a large section of India is now fighting,” Sreeramakrishnan said.
He even threw a challenge at the Centre. “One House cannot move a breach of privilege motion against another elected House. But if they are still pushing forward, it should not be moved against the Chief Minister alone. Let them move the breach of privilege against the Speaker and the other members, too. We are ready to face it,” the Speaker said.
BJP's Rajya Sabha MP G V L Narasimha Rao had on January 1 wrote to the Rajya Sabha chairman Venkiah Naidu seeking permission to move a breach of privilege motion against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for getting a resolution passed in the Kerala Assembly against a law passed by both houses of Parliament. Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also asked the Chief Minister to get better legal advice.
The Chief Minister had been dismissive of these comments. “State Assemblies have its own privileges, and it should not be violated. Such actions are unheard of anywhere,” he had said. Still, he hinted that this was not surprising. “We cannot rule anything out at the moment given the kind of strange things that are happening in the country today,” Vijayan had said.
The Speaker said the resolution passed in the Assembly on December 31, 2019, was not unique either. “It was done many times earlier. In 1975, asking for the repeal of Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA). In 2006 for the repeal of the Income Tax amendment that would hurt the cooperative sector. And recently in 2019, asking that section 194 of the Income Tax Act be removed,” the Speaker said.
Nonetheless, the Speaker conceded that the Governor was not informed of the resolution. “We convened the special session to ratify the amendment on SC/ST quota in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The Governor was informed of this. The rest of the proceedings were drawn up by the Business Advisory Committee of the Assembly, and there is no need to get the Governor's sanction for all of this,” he added.
Meantime, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, too, came out strongly against the Governor. “Can the Governor point out which law was violated by the resolution,” Kodiyeri asked in a statement here on Friday. “Also, can he clarify on what basis, on the basis of which law, he had criticised the Kerala Assembly,” he said.
Kodiyeri said it would be in the fitness of things if the Governor could bother to read the salient points of the Supreme Court verdict in the Arunachal case. “It clearly states that the Governor has no right to meddle in the affairs of the assembly,” Kodiyeri said.