The Delhi High Court Monday turned down a plea filed by rebel AAP MLAs Devinder Sehrawat and Anil Bajpai seeking the “recusal” of Delhi Assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel from adjudicating anti-defection proceedings against them, saying their demand is “bereft of any merit”.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru further held that there was no “infirmity in the behaviour” adopted by the Assembly Speaker while hearing the petition initiated by AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj, seeking their disqualification under the anti-defection law.
The court, meanwhile, gave the MLAs two days to file their response to the notice issued to them on the petition seeking their disqualification.
AAP had moved an anti-defection petition against Sehrawat and Bajpai after the two allegedly joined the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. On June 17, the Speaker issued notice to the two MLAs asking them to file their response by July 8.
The duo, however, moved the HC seeking directions to the Speaker to set up an appropriate committee to adjudicate the anti-defection proceedings initiated against them.
But the court declined them relief and observed, “Why are you (Sehrawat and Bajpai) so hesitant in appearing before it”.
“We are interdicting the Speaker from doing something…,” it observed orally. It, however, rejected the MLAs contention that the Speaker should have first decided their application before going ahead with the proceedings.
The court also termed Sehrawat’s in-person arguments before it as “not lucrative”, as he was represented by his counsel.
Senior advocate Chetan Sharma, appearing for the MLAs, argued that the Speaker is not supposed to have political inclinations but was seen attending events and protests of the AAP.
Sharma, along with advocate Neeraj, contended that the Speaker had joined a “protest called by AAP at Rajghat” and was seen “dancing” in the Lok Sabha poll campaign of AAP candidate Atishi.
Their pleas alleged that in these circumstances, the Speaker might not impartially adjudicate the disqualification proceedings and said that the issue either be sent to the Deputy Speaker or a committee be constituted to hear the matter.The court, however, said the petitioners have the remedy of appeal against his decision.