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HC notice to Houses on MPs’ expulsion
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 9
A day after Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee stated that he was against the interference of courts in Parliament’s decision of expelling 11 MPs for their “involvement” in the “cash for query” scam, the Delhi High Court today issued notices to the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on eight MPs’ petitions, challenging their expulsion.

A Bench comprising Mr Justice Vijender Jain and Ms Justice Rekha Sharma took cognisance of the petition of the eight MPs — five from the BJP and one each from the Congress, the RJD and the BSP — and sought replies from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to their petitions within two weeks.

The court refused to grant interim stay on the resolution of the Lok Sabha expelling 10 MPs and the order of the Ethics Committee of the Rajya Sabha against a member while posting further hearing for February 16.

The expelled BJP MPs who had moved the court were Mr Chhatrapal Singh Lodha (Rajya Sabha), Mr Suresh Chandel, Mr Y.G. Mahajan, Mr Pradeep Gandhi and Mr Anna Saheb Patel. Mr Ram Sevak Singh (Congress), Mr Chandra Pratap Singh (BSP) and Mr Manoj Kumar (RJD) had also filed the petitions, challenging their expulsion.

Senior advocate P.N. Lekhi, appearing for the MPs expelled, questioned the decision of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee on the ground that the Constitution had no provision for expelling an elected member. He said at the most, an MP could be suspended.

He said there were two earlier instances of such expulsion, including that of Indira Gandhi in the post-Emergency period, which he said though wrong, were not challenged in the court of law.

Mr Lekhi said a very important question of law relating the privilege of MPs was involved in the matter, which needed to be examined by the court.

Mr Chatterjee, in his statement yesterday, said the courts had no jurisdiction to interfere in the matter and he would not respond to any notice issued by the court on this issue.

The main contention of the MPs was that their expulsion was against the principles of natural justice as they were not given any opportunity to defend their case in the House.

They had stated that before taking any decision about their expulsion, the matter could have been referred to the Privileges Committee.

They had also challenged the report of the Pawan Kumar Bansal Committee, appointed by the Lok Sabha Speaker, to inquire the matter, saying it had not followed proper procedure to examine the issue.

In view of the stance taken by Mr Chatterjee, legal experts and political observers felt that the legislature and the judiciary might be heading for a confrontation on the issue.

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