regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

SC to hear on March 18 plea by six disqualified Himachal Pradesh MLAs against their disqualification

Following the disqualification of the rebels, the effective strength of the House has gone down to 62 from 68, while the number of Congress MLAs has shrunk to 34 from 40

PTI New Delhi Published 16.03.24, 01:34 PM
Supreme Court

Supreme Court File picture

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on March 18 a plea filed by six Congress rebels, who had cross-voted in the recent Rajya Sabha polls in Himachal Pradesh, against their disqualification from the state assembly.

The six rebels -- Sudhir Sharma, Ravi Thakur, Rajinder Rana, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Chetanya Sharma and Devinder Kumar Bhutto -- were disqualified for defying a Congress whip to be present in the House and vote in favour of the Himachal Pradesh government during the cut motion and budget.


As per the cause list of Monday uploaded on the apex court website, the plea would come up for hearing before a bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta.

When the plea was heard by the top court on March 12, the bench asked the petitioners as to why they have not moved the high court challenging their disqualification. The counsel representing the petitioners had said it was a rare case where the Speaker disqualified these MLAs within 18 hours.

The petitioners have made Pathania, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Harsh Vardhan Chauhan and others as party respondents in their plea filed in the top court.

Following the disqualification of the rebels, the effective strength of the House has gone down to 62 from 68, while the number of Congress MLAs has shrunk to 34 from 40.

The rebel MLAs, in their petition, have alleged violation of the principle of natural justice, claiming they did not get adequate opportunity to respond to the disqualification petition.

Announcing the disqualification of the six MLAs at a press conference on February 29, the Speaker said they attracted disqualification under the anti-defection law as they defied the party whip. He ruled that they ceased to be members of the House with immediate effect.

The petition seeking their disqualification was filed by the Himachal Pradesh parliamentary affairs minister before the Speaker for defying the whip that required them to be present in the House and vote for the budget.

Under the anti-defection law, any elected member who gives up the membership of a political party voluntarily or votes or abstains from voting in the House, contrary to any direction issued by his political party, is liable for disqualification.

These MLAs had signed the attendance register but abstained from the House during the voting on the Budget, the Speaker said. They were issued notices for defying the whip through WhatsApp and e-mail and were asked to appear for the hearing.

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed the Finance Bill by voice vote after the Speaker suspended 15 BJP MLAs. The speaker then adjourned the session.

In his 30-page order, he said the plea of the lawyer of the rebel MLAs, senior advocate Satya Pal Jain, for giving time to reply to the notice was not entertained as "evidence was absolutely clear". The Speaker said delivering quick judgment was necessary in such cases to maintain the dignity of democracy and check the "Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram" phenomenon.

The judgment had no link with cross-voting by these MLAs in the Rajya Sabha polls, the Speaker added.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Follow us on: