MP Owaisi’s ‘Jai Palestine’ Chant – President’s Role in MP Disqualification: Understanding Article 103

MP Asaduddin Owaisi's 'Jai Palestine' chant during oath-taking sparks controversy, raising questions about potential disqualification under constitutional rules.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Hyderabad Member of Parliament and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi took the oath as a member of Parliament on the second day (June 25) of the 18th Lok Sabha proceedings. During the oath-taking, Owaisi created controversy by chanting “Jai Palestine.”

Asaduddin Owaisi has won the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat for the fifth consecutive time. This time, Owaisi received 661,981 votes, defeating BJP’s Madhavi Lata by 338,087 votes. In the 2019 elections, Owaisi had won with a total vote share of 58.95%.

Asaduddin Owaisi was called by the Protem Speaker to take the oath as a member of the Lok Sabha. In a show of his faith, Owaisi recited Bismillah before taking the oath of office. However, it was his subsequent chants of ‘Jai Bhim, Jai Telangana, and later Jai Palestine’ that set off a storm in Parliament. The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) MPs, in particular, were vocal in their disapproval, leading to a tense and charged atmosphere in the House.

Radha Mohan Singh, who was presiding over the House, has ordered the removal of the ‘Jai Palestine’ slogan, but the ruling party members are demanding action against Owaisi.

Protem Speaker Bhartuhari Mahtab, later returned to the chair, said that only the original text of the oath would be recorded. Mahtab said, “I have said before, please avoid mentioning anything other than the original text of the oath. This should be followed.”

Knowing whether Owaisi has violated the rules as a Member of Parliament is important in such a situation.

The first rule for being elected as an MP is that you must be a citizen of India. Additionally, the oath clearly states that as an MP, the person will bear “true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as established by law.” In this context, Owaisi chanting in support of another country, namely Palestine, while taking the oath could be seen as a violation of parliamentary rules. According to current rules, Asaduddin Owaisi can be disqualified from his Lok Sabha membership for showing allegiance to another country, i.e., Palestine.

What do the disqualification rules say?

The provisions for disqualification of an MP are outlined under Article 102 of the Indian Constitution.

1. If an MP is found holding an office of profit under the Government of India or any state government, their membership in Parliament can be declared disqualified.

2. If they are of unsound mind and a court has declared them mentally unfit.

3. If they are declared insolvent (a person who cannot pay their debts and remains in that condition is considered insolvent).

4. If they are not a citizen of India, or have voluntarily acquired the citizenship of another country, or have shown allegiance or adherence to another country.

5. If they are disqualified under any law made by Parliament.

The fourth point clearly states that if a person shows allegiance to a country other than India, they can be disqualified from membership of Parliament.

What did the coalition government say?

A BJP official claimed on Tuesday that the Hyderabad MP could be disqualified from the Lok Sabha for “showing allegiance to a foreign country.”

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju said that he had received complaints from some members regarding the mention of Palestine. He stated that they would review the rules regarding the comments. Rijiju said, “We have no enmity with Palestine or any other country. The only issue is whether it is appropriate for a member to chant in praise of another country while taking the oath. We need to examine the rules. Some members have approached me and complained about the chanting of ‘Jai Palestine’ at the end of the oath.”

What did the BJP say?

BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya posted an excerpt from Article 102 of the Constitution, which lays down the grounds for disqualification as a Member of Parliament. He said, “According to the current rules, Asaduddin Owaisi can be disqualified from his Lok Sabha membership for showing allegiance to a foreign state, i.e., Palestine.”

What did Owaisi say in his defense?

Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Owaisi said that he had said “Jai Palestine” inside the House. He stated, “Other members are also saying different things… I said ‘Jai Bhim, Jai Meem, Jai Telangana, Jai Palestine.’ How is this wrong? Tell me the provisions of the Constitution. You should listen to others as well… read what Mahatma Gandhi said about Palestine.” When asked why he mentioned Palestine, Owaisi said, “They are oppressed people.”

Can Owaisi be disqualified?

The interpretation and application of the rules may not be straightforward, as there are no previous instances in which an MP was disqualified for similar reasons.

As stipulated in Article 103 of the Constitution, the President will be the final arbiter of whether Owaisi’s actions justify disqualification.

What, why, and how of Article 103.

The decision-making procedure regarding the disqualification of members of Parliament is addressed in Article 103 of the Indian Constitution. The primary elements are as follows:

  • Article 103 is an extension of Article 102, which defines the conditions for disqualifying MPs.
  • The President of India is authorized by Article 103 to refer any inquiry concerning an MP’s disqualification to the Supreme Court for its opinion.
  • This provision guarantees that an impartial and independent entity is responsible for interpreting and implementing the anti-defection law.

Role of the President

  • Under Article 103, the President is authorized to refer any inquiry concerning an MP’s disqualification to the Supreme Court. The President also serves as the custodian of the Constitution, ensuring that the law is interpreted consistently with its spirit and intent.
  • The President is legally obligated to adhere to the Supreme Court’s viewpoint on the matter to which the President has referred.

Function of the Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court meticulously evaluates the circumstances of the case and the provisions of the anti-defection law to form a well-reasoned opinion. The Court’s decision relies on constitutional provisions, fairness, and the principles of natural justice.
  • The anti-defection law is interpreted with clarity and guidance in the Supreme Court’s opinion.

Significance of Article 103

  • Article 103 guarantees that an impartial and independent body is responsible for determining the disqualification of MPs. – It functions as a check and balance on the authority of the executive and legislative branches of the government.
  • Article 103 provides a mechanism for resolving disputes and doubts regarding the applicability of the anti-defection law, thereby strengthening it.

In summary, Article 103 is essential in the decision-making process regarding the disqualification of Parliamentary members, as it ensures transparency, impartiality, and the preservation of the principles of democracy and the rule of law.


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