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SC issues notice to Rajya Sabha Secretariat on AAP MP Raghav Chadha's plea against his indefinite suspension

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat on a plea by Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha challenging his indefinite suspension from the Upper House, pending an inquiry by the Privileges Committee.

Chadha was suspended from the House for proposing the names of BJP MPs in a select committee to examine the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra sought assistance from Attorney General R Venkataramani.

The court sought a response from the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and put the matter for consideration on October 30, 2023.

Appearing for Chadha, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi submitted that in the past 75 years, he has found 11 cases where members who proposed motions included names of members who were not willing.

“In none of these cases was this done, and their names were just dropped,” he said.

Dwivedi cited the details of other cases where Rajya Sabha members had included names of MPs who were not willing and later their names were dropped from proposals.

The counsel also submitted as per the Rules of Conduct of Business the power of suspension was only for the session, it cannot go beyond and the inherent powers cannot be extended outside of the session.

Dwivedi submitted Rule 266 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha Rules) only empowered the Chairman to issue general directions, which cannot be invoked to suspend a member.

The petitioner also cited the Supreme Court’s judgment in ‘Ashish Shelar vs State of Maharashtra’ (2022) which held that a member of the house cannot be suspended beyond a session.

He claimed the indefinite suspension beyond the Monsoon session is on the face of it “illegal, manifestly arbitrary, unconstitutional, and erosive of the rights of effective representation to the people of Punjab.”

He also termed the decision of the Rajya Sabha Chairperson as a “selective targeting of a vocal member of Parliament of the Opposition.”

Chadha was suspended from the Parliament’s Upper House on August 11 for “gross violation of rule, misconduct, defiant attitude and contemptuous conduct”.

The action against him came in response to complaints submitted by four MPs – Sasmit Patra, S Phangnon Konyak, M Thambidurai and Narhari Amin.

The MPs accused him of including their names on a motion without their consent, and a complaint was lodged before Jagdeep Dhankar, the Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman.

Their names were allegedly added by Chadha on a motion seeking the constitution of a select committee to study the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

In his plea before the apex court, Chadha has argued that his suspension was in clear violation of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) as well as Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The Rajya Sabha Secretariat and its chairperson are respondents in the petition filed before the court.

The plea contended that there exists a categorical prohibition against the suspension of any member for a period exceeding the remainder of the sessions. He has been suspended since the last hour of the Monsoon Session of Parliament this year.

Chadha submitted that he is not able to attend the meetings of the standing committee on finance and the committee on subordinate legislation, which continue their work even when Parliament is not in session.

The plea said in terms of Article 101(4) of the Constitution, the effect of an indefinite suspension, particularly outside the period of session is to de-facto create a vacancy after a period of sixty days, which also shows the prima facie illegality of the impugned action.

Chadha’s plea contended that a suspension cannot have an effect of expulsion and create a vacancy in the House.

(Published 16 October 2023, 09:26 IST)

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