Chandigarh April 1, 2011. The hearing of 5 disqualification petitions against 5 HJC defector MLAs, filed by Sh. Kuldeep Bishnoi, MLA seeking their disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India for defecting to Congress (I) after having been elected on the ticket of the Haryana Janhit Congress in the last election to Haryana Vidhan Sabha, took place before the Speaker of Haryana Vidhan Sabha today. The hearing took place on an application moved by the 5 defector MLAs seeking deletion of certain paragraphs from the disqualification petitions.
The petitioner Mr. Kuldeep Bishnoi was represented by Sh. Satya Pal Jain, Senior Advocate with Sh. Dheeraj Jain, Advocate whereas the 5 defector MLAs were represented by Ch. Harbhagwan Singh, Senior Advocate with Sh. Arun Walia and Sh. Tarsem Vashisht, Advocates.Hot words were exchanged between Mr. Satya Pal Jain, Senior Advocate and Mr. Harbhagwan Singh, Senior Advocate when Mr. Harbhagwan Singh said that he cannot conclude his arguments today and requested for another date for the same. Strongly objecting to this, Mr. Jain said that as a matter of fact the other side just wanted to prolong and delay the matter to an indefinite period. He said that the disqualification petition was filed on December 22, 2009 and inspite of the fact that under Rule 7 of the Anti-disqualification Rules the reply by the defector MLAs was to be filed within 7 days, the reply was actually filed after 15 months. He said that on the last date of hearing on March 1, 2011, an undertaking was given to the Punjab & Haryana High Court by Sh. Gopal Subramanium, Additional Solicitor General of India that the Speaker will dispose off these petitions as expeditiously as possible. He said that inspite of that, nothing concrete has been done in this case till date. Mr. Jain urged the Speaker to decide the case one way or the other without any further delay.
Mr. Harbhagwan Singh, Senior Advocate submitted that reference to Ch. Bhajan Lal being elected to Lok Sabha on HJC ticket and mentioning of lines in the petition that the “order passed by the Speaker was void ab-initio” are liable to be struck off as they have no relevance to the controversy. He cited certain judgements on the issue that the court has the power to strike pleadings under Order 6 Rule 17 CPC.
On a query from the Speaker, Mr. Jain said that under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India, once a petition has been filed by any person against any defecting MLA, the Speaker has to only decide whether the concerned MLA has become subject to disqualification under Anti-disqualification law or not and all other issues are irrelevant. He challenged Mr. Harbhagwan to cite even a single judgement under the anti-defection law where any paragraph has been struck off from the pleadings either by the Speaker or any other court of law. On the other hand, Mr. Jain cited a Supreme Court judgement in Dr. Mahachandra Parshad Singh case, where the SC has said that the anti defection rules are only procedural and even if there is any violation of the same, it can not vitiate the proceedings before the Speaker. The Supreme Court also said that even if the petition is defective, the Speaker has to decide the case and the defector MLA cannot be allowed to take the benefit of defects in the petition to save himself from disqualification.
Both Mr. Harbhagwan Singh and Mr. Satya Pal Jain accused each other of trying to delay the proceedings. Ultimately, the Speaker adjourned the hearing of the case to April 20, 2011.