The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed the petitions of two Aam Aadmi Party MLAs seeking recusal of Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel from disqualification proceedings against them. The court said that there was no reason to use any mathematical formula to decide the matter, PTI reported.
The bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said it did not agree with the argument of Anil Bajpai and Devinder Sehrawat that Goel should decide on their recusal applications before the disqualification proceedings. “The speaker has all the power and jurisdiction to decide the disqualification petition,” it said. “It is not obligatory for the speaker to decide in piecemeal manner, that is, first the preliminary objection raised by the members of the House on the disqualification petition and thereafter, the disqualification petition.”
The two MLAs had challenged the court’s July 8 order, which had rejected their pleas for Goel’s recusal from hearings of the disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law. Both Bajpai and Sehrawat claimed that their grievances had not been heard earlier by the single judge, who had passed the order.
“We leave this issue to be decided by the speaker whether he will decide the preliminary objection first and then the disqualification petition or to decide both the issues together,” the bench said on Wednesday. “What procedure is to be followed is left to the speaker to decide. We restrain ourselves from imposing any mathematical formula on the Speaker of the House.”
The Delhi High Court said that any member against whom the disqualification plea has been preferred may raise preliminary objection so that one round of litigation is started, but the other one would be the disqualification proceeding. It said that the Speaker can avoid such “multi-facet litigation” but the court found no reason to entertain the appeals. “There is no error committed by the single judge,” the court said. “The issues raised have already been dealt with by the single judge.”
On June 10, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj had filed a petition, seeking the disqualification of Bajpai and Sehrawat. A week later, the Speaker had sent notices to the two and asked them to submit their replies by July 8.
Bajpai had alleged that Goel had, in the past, joined a protest organised by the Aam Aadmi Party at the Rajghat even though the Speaker was not supposed to have political leanings. They had also asked for the appointment of a committee to oversee the disqualification petition against them.