Chandigarh, December 20, 2011. In an important judgement, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High court today restrained the 5 HJC MLAs, namely Satpal Sangwan, Vinod Bhayana, Narendra Singh, Zile Ram Sharma and Dharam Singh, from holding any office till the decision of the disqualification petitions pending against them before the Speaker, Haryana Vidhan Sabha.
Dismissing the appeals filed by the Speaker, Haryana Vidhan Sabha and the 5 defector MLAs, the High Court observed as under… “38. Therefore, we are of the considered view that the Speaker has not been able to proceed with the disqualification petitions as expeditiously as possible and in accordance with the directions issued by this Court. The disqualification petitions were filed on 9.12.2009 against respondent Nos. 2 to 6 and a period of two years has been consumed. We have recorded the views of Hon’ble the Supreme Court and this Court, for the Speaker to follow in such proceedings. The law against defection was enacted to save sanctity of democratic institution whereas in the present case basic object of that law appears to have been lost.
39. In view of the aforesaid discussion, the appeals are dismissed. However, we accept the contention of Mr. Jain, learned senior counsel for the writ petitioner-respondent No. 1 and exercising jurisdiction under Order XLI Rule 33 C.P.C. grant limited relief of suspending the operation of orders dated 9.11.2009 and 10.11.2009 (P-4 and P-7) passed by the Speaker. Consequently, the appellant-MLAs, namely, Sarvshri Satpal Sangwan, Vinod Bhayana, Narendra Singh, Zile Ram Sharma and Dharam Singh would not be deemed to be members of the INC party nor that of HJC (BL) till the decision of disqualification petitions. However, they would continue to be regarded as un-attached members of the Legislative Assembly for the purposes of attending the session and for no other purpose. They shall also not hold any office till the decision of disqualification petitions. The Speaker shall allot them a separate set of seats in the House. However, their status shall be subject to the final decision of the Speaker in disqualification petitions, which are pending before him. The Speaker is directed again to comply with the undertaking given to this Court and proceed with the disqualification petitions in accordance with law and decide the same on or before 30.4.2012. …”
It may be mentioned here, that after the elections to the Haryana Vidhan Sabha in October/November 2009, 5 out of the 6 MLAs who were elected on HJC ticket defected to Congress, saying that the HJC has merged with the Congress. On this, Sh. Kuldeep Bishnoi filed 5 petitions before the Speaker, Vidhan Sabha under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India seeking their disqualification on the ground that there has been no merger of the HJC with the Congress and it was a case of defection & not of merger. When the Speaker did not decide these petitions expeditiously, Mr. Bishnoi filed a writ petition in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, through his lawyers Sh. Satya Pal Jain, Senior Advocate & Sh. Dheeraj Jain, Advocate, seeking a direction to the Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions within reasonable time. On 20-12-2010, a Single Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions against these 5 MLAs within 4 months. Later on, the Speaker of Haryana Vidhan Sabha and the 5 defector MLAs filed separate appeals before a Division Bench of the Punjab & Haryana High Court. All these appeals were dismissed today by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court consisting of Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. M. Kumar and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Gurdev Singh.
It was argued by Mr. Satya Pal Jain, Senior Advocate, alongwith Mr. Dheeraj Jain, Advocate, counsels for Mr. Kuldeep Bishnoi, that the Speaker is intentionally delaying the decision on the disqualification petitions. He had also urged the High Court to disqualify the MLAs because no merger of the HJC ever took place with the congress and it was only a cock and bull story concocted by the 5 defector MLAs to save themselves from disqualification under the anti defection law.
Welcoming the judgment, Mr. Satya Pal Jain, Ex-MP & Senior Advocate said that this judgment will go a long way in curbing the evil of defections in Political Life. He said that this judgment should be an eye opener for all those, including MLAs, CMs and Speaker, who thought that they are above law & above the Constitution of India.