Put in abeyance privileges committee proceedings against suspended BJP MLAs: Delhi HC

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 22-02-2024 19:33 IST | Created: 22-02-2024 19:31 IST
Put in abeyance privileges committee proceedings against suspended BJP MLAs: Delhi HC
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The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the privileges committee of the Delhi assembly to hold off its proceedings against seven BJP MLAs who have been suspended indefinitely for interrupting Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena's address at the start of the Budget session.

Justice Subramonoium Prasad, who was hearing the petitions by the seven opposition legislators, said since the court is hearing the matter on merit, the committee should not continue with the proceedings.

''Since I have started hearing today, privileges committee should not continue. All further proceedings must be kept in abeyance,'' the judge orally told the senior counsel appearing for the assembly.

The seven BJP MLAs -- Mohan Singh Bisht, Ajay Mahawar, O P Sharma, Abhay Verma, Anil Bajpai, Jitender Mahajan and Vijender Gupta -- approached the high court earlier this week challenging their indefinite suspension from the assembly.

The MLAs have contended their suspension till the conclusion of the proceedings before the privileges committee was in violation of the applicable rules.

On Wednesday, the judge had said an attempt should be made to resolve the issue outside the court after it was told that LG Saxena has accepted the apology tendered by the MLAs.

The court, which began hearing the petitions on merit on Thursday, said their suspension was resulting in their constituencies going unrepresented in the House.

''He is a representative of the people in the assembly. There is a constituency which is going unrepresented,'' the court said. Senior advocate Jayant Mehta, appearing for the petitioners, argued that the privileges committee cannot look into the alleged misconduct of interrupting the LG, and once directed to ''withdraw'' themselves from the sitting, a second punishment of their suspension during the pendency of privilege committee proceedings cannot be permitted.

Senior advocates Kirti Uppal and Malvika Trivedi as well as advocate Pavan Narang also appeared for the petitioners.

Uppal said the suspension was unconstitutional and constituencies cannot be allowed to go unrepresented in the House indefinitely. Senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for the assembly, said the matter pertained to the dignity of the House and preservation of its functioning, and the right of a constituency to be represented is not an ''unbridled right''. ''The whole essence is preservation of functioning of the House. That is of utmost importance. The House represents the will of the entire people,'' he said. Hearing in the matter will continue on Friday. The BJP lawmakers had interrupted Saxena multiple times during his address on February 15 as he highlighted the achievements of the AAP government, while they attacked the Arvind Kejriwal government on a range of issues.

AAP MLA Dilip Pandey had moved a resolution in the House for their suspension which was accepted by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, who also referred the issue to the privileges committee.

Seven BJP lawmakers, barring Leader of the Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, have been barred from attending the proceedings.

The session has been extended till the first week of March due to delay in budget finalisation. The petitions by the MLAs said their suspension violates Article 19(1)(a) (right to freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution of India and the rights and privileges of the MLAs as well as the principle of ''proportionality'' and ''rationality''.

''The Order of the Hon 'ble Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi is unconstitutional, unjust, unfair and, in any event, selective and grossly disproportionate. It violates the fundamental and constitutional rights of the Petitioners,'' the petition filed through advocate Satya Ranjan Swain on behalf of Mahawar, Gupta and Bajpai said.

The plea highlighted that the budget is the last full budget before the assembly elections in 2025 and therefore the presence of the opposition members was of utmost importance.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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