HC sets aside BJP Delhi MLA’s suspension from assembly, allows attendance
The Delhi high court on Friday set aside the one-year suspension of BJP lawmaker Vijender Gupta from the Delhi legislative assembly and permitted him to attend the remaining budget session while directing him to maintain the dignity of the House.
IMAGE: BJP’s Delhi MLA Vijender Gupta. Photograph: ANI Photo
Justice Prathiba M Singh allowed Gupta’s petition in which he had challenged his one-year suspension from the assembly, but made clear that the court had not examined the merits of the suspension.
”A perusal of the summary of proceedings (of assembly) shows that there was disturbance caused during the sitting of the House both by the petitioner, as also by ruling party members. There is no gainsaying that the members of the legislative assembly or any other elected House have to maintain dignity of the House in order to play a positive role owing to the mandate of the people,” the court said, adding that “the petitioner shall also maintain the dignity of the House”.
On March 21, Delhi assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel had suspended Gupta till the next Budget Session for allegedly obstructing the proceedings of the House.
The high court perused Rule 277(3)(b) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the legislative assembly of Delhi which states that ”once a member being so suspended, the period of suspension shall be for the first occasion for three sittings, for the second occasion for seven sittings and on subsequent occasions unless otherwise decided by the House, for the remainder of the session. Provided that any period of suspension shall in no case be longer than the remainder of the session.”
The court noted that it was Gupta’s first suspension and said keeping in view Rule 277(3)(b), the suspension could be only for three sittings which he has already served.
The court said the Budget Session is ongoing and the petitioner has already remained suspended for four days.
”In view of the above discussion, the suspension period, being of one year deserves to be set aside. It is accordingly directed that the Petitioner would be permitted to attend the Delhi legislative assembly from Monday, that is, March 27, 2023 till the remainder of the current session. The writ petition is allowed in the above terms,” Justice Singh said.
Senior advocate Jayant Mehta, appearing for Gupta, referred to the relevant rules which state that the suspension of a member has to be in a ”graded manner” and on the first occasion, the suspension can be ordered for three sittings only.
However, Gupta has been suspended for a year which is not in accordance with the provision, he argued.
Advocate Sameer Vashisht, appearing for the Delhi assembly, submitted that such suspensions are not to be inquired into by any court.
He said Gupta’s suspension is by the House and not the speaker and therefore, the House is fully empowered to issue a punishment of higher nature.
In the petition, the legislator from Rohini said his suspension was “unfair, unjust, unreasonable” and contrary to the principles of natural justice as well as the law, including the Rules of Procedure & Conduct of Business, Legislative Assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi.
It is a strategy to scuttle the voice of the opposition and violated his powers and privileges as a member of the assembly, the plea alleged.
The plea asserted the procedure adopted by the speaker was in absolute violation of Gupta’s rights guaranteed under the Constitution as a citizen as well as a member of legislative assembly.
“Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Sanjeev Jha proposed the petitioner’s suspension from the House for a period of one year. The speaker put the motion to vote by adopting the voice vote and ordered the suspension of the petitioner from sittings of the House for one year without any justification and again marshalled out the Petitioner,” said the plea filed through lawyers Neeraj, Pavan Narang and Satya Ranjan Swain.
“The petitioner’s suspension is not an extemporaneous incident, but is a result of a well-designed conspiracy and a well-planned strategy to scuttle the voice of the opposition and ignore the serious breach committed by the (AAP) minister. Needless to mention that as a leader of the opposition party, the Petitioner was discharging his constitutional duties in the House of the legislative assembly,” added the plea.
Earlier that day, Gupta had proposed a breach of privilege motion against Finance Minister Kailash Gahlot and Environment Minister Gopal Rai for allegedly leaking Delhi budget details on social media.
To this, speaker Goel had said, “As per rules, such a notice needs to be given three hours before. You are also saying that it should be taken up for discussion. It seems the aim is to create a ruckus and waste the time of the House.”
The speaker also issued a strict warning to Gupta.
As the House reconvened after 2 pm, Gupta again raised the issue, following which AAP MLA Sanjeev Jha demanded that he be expelled for a year.
The motion as passed by the House with Goel saying that Gupta was suspended from the Delhi Assembly proceedings till the next budget session.