[Delhi Assembly Budget Session] "We Met The Speaker Yesterday": Suspended BJP MLAs Inform High Court

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Allegedly, the BJP MLAs interrupted Lt Governor VK Saxena multiple times during his address on Thursday last week as they sought to attack Arvind Kejriwal's government

Senior Advocate Jayant Mehta, appearing for the 7 BJP MLAs suspended from the Delhi Assembly Budget Session, informed the Delhi High Court on Thursday that they met the Speaker yesterday. "Except to say that by 1 o'clock today, I must give a response to the privileges committee, and at 2:30 pm today, the committee will proceed," he submitted.

The bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad asked the privileges committee of the Delhi assembly to hold off its proceedings against seven BJP MLAs who have been suspended indefinitely for interrupting Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena’s address at the start of the Budget session.

Justice Prasad said since the court is hearing the matter on merit, the committee should not continue with the proceedings. “Since I have started hearing today, the privileges committee should not continue. All further proceedings must be kept in abeyance,” he said orally to the senior counsel appearing for the assembly.

The court, which began hearing the petitions on merit on Thursday, said their suspension was resulting in their constituencies going unrepresented in the House. “He is a representative of the people in the assembly. There is a constituency that is going unrepresented,” Justice Prasad remarked.

The court has adjourned the matter for further hearing tomorrow, i.e., February 23. 

Yesterday, the court asked the seven BJP MLAs, suspended from the Delhi Assembly for disrupting the Lieutenant Governor's address, to meet the speaker. Justice Prasad had asked the legislators to meet the speaker.

Senior Advocates Jayant Mehta and Kirti Uppal, on behalf of the suspended MLAs, had apprised the court that an apology letter was sent to the LG and that he had accepted the apology. "However, according to the respondents, the speaker is the person we should have called. We sent a copy of the letter to the speaker, and we also sent it to the LG. Although we don't admit any wrongdoing, it was meant as an apology," Mehta had added. 

Notably, on Tuesday, the court raised the prospect of an apology from seven BJP MLAs suspended from the Delhi Assembly for disrupting the Lieutenant Governor's address.

The judge had asked the senior counsel representing the suspended legislators to ascertain if they were willing to offer apologies. This suggestion followed a similar approach adopted by the Supreme Court in the case of MP Raghav Chadha.

On Monday, Senior Advocates Jayant Mehta and Kirti Uppal had appeared before the court for the petitioners. Mehta had submitted that the Supreme Court had already said that a parliamentarian cannot be suspended for an indefinite period. "A maximum punishment of three days can be given for the first incident and seven days for the second incident of violation. This is the first punishment," he had said.

Seven Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs, out of a total of eight in the Delhi Assembly, who were suspended for disrupting the Lieutenant Governor's address last week, moved the High Court today challenging the decision.

The BJP MLAs faced suspension on Friday last week following disruptions during the Lieutenant Governor's address on the first day of the budget session. Their protests led to the interruption of Governor VK Saxena's speech within less than thirty minutes.

AAP MLA Dilip Pandey proposed action against the BJP MLAs, prompting Speaker Ram Niwas Goel to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee. Subsequently, the House approved the suspension of seven BJP MLAs, with the exception of Leader of Opposition Ramveer Singh Bidhuri, until the committee presented its findings.

The suspended members, including Mohan Singh Bisht, Ajay Kumar Mahawar, Om Prakash Sharma, Abhay Verma, Anil Vajpayi, Jitender Mahajan, and Vijender Gupta, were directed by the Speaker to leave the assembly premises.

Pandey accused the BJP MLAs of tarnishing the government's reputation and undermining the House's dignity in the presence of the media. He further alleged that the BJP's actions were squandering Delhi's tax revenue by obstructing the legislature's functioning.

In response to their suspension, the BJP MLAs, alongside the opposition leader, staged protests inside the Assembly, chanting slogans, and later demonstrated outside the Chief Minister's office.

Case Title: Ajay Kumar Mahawar & Ors. v. Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi & Anr. (connected matters)