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Defector HJC MLAs
Haryana Speaker in no mood to comply with High Court directions
Yoginder Gupta/TNS

Chandigarh, December 28
Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma is in no mood to comply with the directions issued to him by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on December 20 for making separate sitting arrangements for five former HJC MLAs in the Assembly.

The court had declared that these MLAs would be treated as unattached till the Speaker decided on the disqualification petitions filed against them by HJC president Kuldeep Bishnoi. Sharma is planning to write to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and President Pratibha Patil on the issue. There has been a precendent when the then Lok Sabha Speaker, Som Nath Chatterjee, had ignored a Supreme Court notice.

In his letter to the President, Sharma would request for making a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court so that all gray areas in the anti-defection law were cleared once for all. “This is necessary,” he said, “because there is multiplicity of court judgments on the anti-defection law and a presiding officer is left confused which judgment to follow.”

In an interview to The Tribune, Sharma said under Article 212 of the Constitution, it was the prerogative of the Speaker to run the business of the House. In the famous SR Bomai case, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had held that the three wings of democracy — the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary — had clearly demarcated territories of their own and no wing should encroach upon the other’s territory. Even in the Kameshwar Singh case of UP, where the high court had issued contempt notice to the Speaker, who, in turn issued a privilege notice to the judges, the SC had advised that such a situation should be avoided.

Sharma said what sitting arrangements were to be made in the House was the exclusive domain of the Speaker.

Moreover, the Supreme Court had held that there were only three categories of legislators - belonging to a political party, Independent or nominated. The apex court, he said, did not recognise any category of “unattached” members. Therefore, it was not possible for him to go with the high court judgment.

He said being a lawyer, he had deep respect for the judiciary and, therefore, he would not comment on the December 20 judgment, which, he said, he would do at a proper platform (read Supreme Court). But, he said, he would certainly discuss the judgment “academically”.

Sharma, who returned to the state capital today after more than a month (his ailing father expired recently), said, “It seems the high court expects me to sign the judgment written by the court. If that is the spirit behind the anti-defection law, then there is nothing left for me to decide, particularly when the high court says that the merger (between the Congress and the HJC) is prima facie wrong.”

Discussing the judgment “academically”, he said the other direction of the high court that the five MLAs against whom the disqualification petitions are pending “shall not hold office” till the decision on the petitions, “is non est qua the Chief Minister and the Governor” as they were not party to the case.

Even in the present judgment, the court had commented that since no notice was given to Bishnoi before the Speaker passed orders on the application of the five HJC MLAs to accept their merger with the Congress, these orders were not valid.

He said since only the MLAs were the party to the case, it was up to them to decide what to do as far as the direction to them about holding the office was concerned.

Expressing pain on certain adverse remarks in the judgment on the functioning of the Speaker, Sharma said the comments were not in spirit of a healthy democratic system. “Such comments are best avoided to safeguard the sanctity of the institutions,” he said.

Sharma said he had never avoided attending the proceedings on the disqualification petitions. He said it was only after he took over the office that the evidence of Bishnoi was recorded. Three of the five MLAs had been cross-examined. He said advocates took time to cross-examine witnesses, in which, he said, he could not help.

The defiant Speaker said it was a matter of record that his father Chiranji Lal Sharma was admitted to a Gurgaon hospital on November 16 and remained there till his death on December 12, which was followed by a 17-day period of mourning.





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