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Delhi HC reserves order on 7 BJP MLAs' pleas challenging indefinite suspension from Assembly

Earlier, the court had asked the privileges committee of the Delhi Assembly to hold off its proceedings against the suspended MLAs in view of the pendency of the matter before it.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 09:36 IST

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday reserved its order on the pleas by seven BJP MLAs challenging their indefinite suspension from the legislative assembly for interrupting Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena's address at the start of the budget session.

Justice Subramonium Prasad asked the parties to file short written submissions, if any, within two days.

The court was hearing petitions by the BJP MLAs -- Mohan Singh Bisht, Ajay Mahawar, O P Sharma, Abhay Verma, Anil Bajpai, Jitender Mahajan and Vijender Gupta -- challenging their indefinite suspension from the assembly till the conclusion of the proceedings before the privileges committee.

Earlier, the court had asked the privileges committee of the Delhi Assembly to hold off its proceedings against the suspended MLAs in view of the pendency of the matter before it.

The MLAs, represented through senior advocate Jayant Mehta, had contended their suspension till the conclusion of the proceedings before the privileges committee was in violation of the applicable rules.

The authorities of the assembly had assured the court that the indefinite suspension of the MLAs was not an attempt to stifle dissent in the House and the privileges committee proceedings against them would be concluded without any delay.

Senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog, appearing for the Delhi Assembly, had asserted that suspension was a 'self-discipline' mechanism in the face of 'series of misdemeanours' by the opposition legislators.

He had opposed the petitions contending that the House holds a discretion in the matters of maintaining its dignity and when the petitioners wrote a letter to the LG tendering their apology, they could have addressed a similar letter to the House as well for causing disruption.

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 subsequently 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.

Barring Leader of the Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, all other BJP lawmakers in the assembly were barred from attending the proceedings.

The session has been extended till the first week of March due to a 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.

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(Published 27 February 2024, 09:36 IST)

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