Haryana’s defector legislators object to hearing

Friday, February 4, 2011

CHANDIGARH - The five legislators from the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) who defected to the ruling Congress Friday objected to the anti-defection issue against them being heard by Haryana assembly’s deputy speaker.

As Deputy Speaker Akram Khan took up the hearing Friday, the counsels for the five legislators said the matter under the anti-defection law could only be taken up by the assembly speaker and no one else.

Haryana assembly Speaker H.S. Chatha, who has been hearing the case since December 2009, had quit his post last week. He was inducted as a cabinet minister in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government within hours of his resignation.

With Chatha’s resignation, the speaker’s post has fallen vacant and the deputy speaker, Akram Khan, is now the acting speaker.

The matter came up for hearing Friday following recent direction by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the case be decided by the speaker within four months.

However, the counsel for Haryana Janhit Congress president Kuldeep Bishnoi, who has filed the petition seeking disqualification, said that the deputy speaker could discharge all the functions of the speaker if the speaker’s chair fell vacant.

The five defector legislators are Sat Pal Sangwan, Zile Ram Sharma, Dharam Singh, Vinod Bhayana and Rao Narender Singh.

While Sangwan and Rao Narender Singh were last week inducted as cabinet ministers in the Hooda government, Sharma and Bhayana were made chief parliamentary secretaries (CPS).

This was seen as a clear move by the chief minister to appease the five legislators with ministerial and official berths.

The Congress had failed to get a simple majority in the October 2009 assembly poll but managed to rope in seven independent legislators to form the government.

Later the five legislators also defected to the Congress.

They have been claiming that it was not a defection, but a merger of their Haryana Janhit Congress group with the Congress.

Bishnoi now is the only HJC legislator in the assembly.

His counsel Friday said that the objection is being raised only to delay the matter as much as they can.

The counsel also said that the high court has already directed the speaker to decide the matters within four months, that is by April 20.

He said that the direction is equally binding on the officiating speaker also and any attempt to frustrate the court mandate will amount to committing contempt of the high court.

The officiating speaker said that he shall inform them of his decision soon.

Filed under: Politics

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