The Gauhati High Court has stayed the notification issued by Assam Assembly Speaker that ceased to recognise Congress leader Debabrata Saikia as the Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly.

The Assam Assembly Speaker on January 1 had withdrawn the status of Leader of Opposition from Debabrata Saikia after 2 Congress leaders quit the party and joined BJP.

With the 2 leaders quitting the party, the Congress’ number in the 126-member Assam Assembly was reduced to 20, one short of the numbers required to have one-sixth of the total members of the Assembly.

The Speaker’s notification issued on January 1, stated that the “Congress does not have the requisite one-sixth House strength in the 126-member Assembly to hold the post of Leader of the Opposition”.

Following the notification from the Assembly Speaker, derecognising Debabrata Saikia as the Leader of Opposition, Saikia moved the Gauhati High Court seeking its intervention.

While hearing the petition filed by Debabrata Saikia challenging the Speaker’s notification, Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua stayed his removal as Leader of Opposition.

The Gauhati High Court also issued notices to the Secretary and Principal Secretary of Assam Assembly returnable within two weeks.

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“No material has been produced before the court that the petitioner Debabrata Saikia is not the leader of Indian National Congress legislature party in the Assam legislative assembly. So from the said point of view, the petitioner satisfies the requirement of the meaning of the expression leader of opposition,” Justice Bujor Barua said in his order.

“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 order added.

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