The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a plea by Lok Janshakti Party leader Chirag Paswan, challenging the decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker to recognise his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras as the leader of the party in the House, reported Bar and Bench.
“It is well settled that the right to regulate internal disputes of the House is of the Speaker,” Justice Rekha Palli said. “The petition is without merits.”
The LJP plunged into a crisis in June when five of its six Lok Sabha MPs rebelled against Paswan and told Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla that they have chosen Paras as the party’s leader in Parliament. The move was effectively a coup against Paswan, who is the sixth LJP MP. Birla had accepted Paras as the floor leader of the LJP in the Lower House.
Paswan has claimed that 66 out of the 75 members in the LJP national executive support him and therefore Paras’ claim of being the national president will not hold up before the Election Commission or in court.
During the hearing, Advocate AK Bajpai, appearing for Paswan, told the High Court that the decision to name Paras as the LJP’s floor leader in Lok Sabha was arbitrary and contrary to the party’s constitution, reported Live Law. “The decision has to be taken by the Parliamentary board,” Bajpai said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the central government, told the High Court that Paswan’s petition was “blissfully vague” about the basic constitutional matters. “Out of six elected persons [of LJP in Lok Sabha], five are not with the petitioner,” Mehta submitted. “The prayer is to implement the constitution of the party. Suppose one of those five had to come before the court, how would the writ examine that dispute? This dispute cannot be a subject matter of judicial review.”
Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, appearing for Birla, cited a letter written by Paras, the chief whip of the LJP, on June 13 to the Speaker. Rao submitted that the letter said that Paras is the elected leader and that five of the six LJP MPs had made the representation before the Speaker, ANI reported.
To this, Bajpai argued that the five leaders have been expelled from the party. Rao replied: “If they are deemed to be expelled, the Election Commission will deal with it.”
“Because chief whip is the only communicator of a party and only play its role when the house is in session, whereas, respondent no 3 [Paras] took a decision of its own and that too contrary to the stand of the party and the Speaker acted in haste without follow[ing] due process or even without compliance of natural justice,” Paswan’s plea said.
Meanwhile, Paras was inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet as the Union minister of Food Processing Industries on Wednesday.
Paswan’s decision to contest the Bihar Assembly elections separately from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is considered to be one of the reasons for his feud with Paras. The party had won just one out of 243 seats in the Assembly polls. However, the LJP dented the performance of the Janata Dal (United), which finished third.