Delhi HC dismisses AAP MLAs' pleas for recusal of Speaker Ram Niwas Goel from disqualification proceedings

The Delhi HC Wednesday dismissed the pleas of two AAP MLAs, Anil Bajpai and Col Devender Sehrawat, seeking recusal of the Assembly Speaker from disqualification proceedings against them

Press Trust of India July 24, 2019 19:58:16 IST
Delhi HC dismisses AAP MLAs' pleas for recusal of Speaker Ram Niwas Goel from disqualification proceedings
  • Delhi HC dismissed the pleas of two AAP MLAs seeking recusal of the Speaker Ram Niwas Goel from disqualification proceedings against them

  • The two AAP MLAs — Anil Bajpai and Col Devender Sehrawat — had challenged an 8 July order which dismissed their pleas

  • AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj on 10 June filed the petition seeking their disqualification under the anti-defection law for allegedly joining the BJP

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday dismissed the pleas of two AAP MLAs, Anil Bajpai and Col Devender Sehrawat, seeking recusal of the Legislative Assembly Speaker from disqualification proceedings against them, and said it finds no reason to impose any mathematical formula to decide the issue.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said it was not in agreement with the contention of the two MLAs that the Speaker ought to have decided their recusal application first, instead of proceeding further with the disqualification petition against them.

Delhi HC dismisses AAP MLAs pleas for recusal of Speaker Ram Niwas Goel from disqualification proceedings

File image of the Delhi High Court. PTI

"The Speaker has all the power and jurisdiction to decide the disqualification petition. It is not obligatory for the Speaker to decide in a piecemeal manner, that is, first the preliminary objection raised by the members of the House on the disqualification petition and thereafter, the disqualification petition," the bench said.

The MLAs had challenged the single judge's 8 July order which dismissed their pleas for a direction to Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel to recuse from hearing the petition for their disqualification under the anti-defection law.

They claimed that the single judge has not appreciated their grounds for seeking recusal of the Speaker and their grievances have not been heard.

The division bench, while dismissing the two appeals, said it is the prerogative of the Speaker to decide all the issues, whether preliminary or not, at a time and held that the procedure in the House shall be governed by the adjudicating authority — the Speaker.

"We leave this issue to be decided by the Speaker whether he will decide the preliminary objection first and then the disqualification petition or to decide both the issues together," it said.

"We see no reason to impose any mathematical formula on the Speaker to decide the issue. What procedure is to be followed is left to the Speaker to decide. We restrain ourselves from imposing any mathematical formula on the Speaker of the House," the bench said.

It is the prerogative of the Speaker to evolve his own procedure to conduct the proceedings of the house, it said.

It said normally any member against whom disqualification petition is preferred, they may raise preliminary objection so that one round of litigation starts and thereafter, the other one would be the disqualification proceeding.

"The Speaker can avoid such type of multi-facet litigation in his own experience and wisdom. We see no reason to entertain these two letter patent appeals (LPAs). There is no error committed by the single judge. The issues raised have already been dealt with by the single judge," it said.

The single judge had said there was "no infirmity" in the procedure adopted by the Speaker and rejected the MLAs' allegation of bias as also the contention that he should have first decided their application for recusal before going ahead with disqualification proceedings.

There is no law stating that the Speaker has to decide the issues "piecemeal", it had said, adding that he can comprehensively decide the entire matter.

AAP MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj on June 10 filed the petition seeking their disqualification under the anti-defection law for allegedly joining the BJP.

The Speaker had on June 17 issued a notice to the two MLAs asking them to file their response by 8 July.

The two MLAs had alleged that the Speaker is not supposed to have political inclinations but was seen attending events and protests of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

They had alleged the Speaker was even seen "dancing" in the Lok Sabha poll campaign of AAP candidate Atishi Marlena.

They had alleged that in these circumstances, the Speaker might not impartially adjudicate the disqualification proceedings and the issue be sent either to the Deputy Speaker or a committee be constituted to hear the matter.

"It is stated that there is every likelihood that respondent 1 (Speaker) won't impartially adjudicate the present matter because he is acting as an active member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has initiated the anti-defection proceeding," the petitions had said.

On the other hand, the lawyers for the Speaker and Bharadwaj told the court that the petition was not maintainable as Sehrawat had not disclosed that he had earlier moved the Supreme Court against the notice issued to him and had withdrawn the plea after the apex court declined to hear it.

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