The Delhi High Court on Friday set aside the one-year suspension of BJP MLA Vijender Gupta from the Delhi Legislative Assembly and permitted him to attend the remaining Budget Session while directing him to maintain the dignity of the House.
Justice Prathiba M Singh allowed Gupta’s petition in which he had challenged his one-year suspension from the assembly, but made clear that the court had not examined the merits of the suspension.
“A perusal of the summary of proceedings (of assembly) shows that there was disturbance caused during the sitting of the House both by the petitioner, as also by ruling party members. There is no gainsaying that the Members of the Legislative Assembly or any other elected House have to maintain dignity of the House in order to play a positive role owing to the mandate of the people,” the court said, adding that “the petitioner shall also maintain the dignity of the House”.
On March 21, Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel had suspended Gupta till the next Budget Session for allegedly obstructing the proceedings of the House.
The high court perused Rule 277(3)(b) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi which states that “once a member being so suspended, the period of suspension shall be for the first occasion for three sittings, for the second occasion for seven sittings and on subsequent occasions unless otherwise decided by the House, for the remainder of the session. Provided that any period of suspension shall in no case be longer than the remainder of the session.”
The court noted that it was Gupta’s first suspension and said keeping in view Rule 277(3)(b), the suspension could be only for three sittings which he has already served. The court said the Budget Session is ongoing and the petitioner has already remained suspended for four days.
“In view of the above discussion, the suspension period, being of one year deserves to be set aside. It is accordingly directed that the Petitioner would be permitted to attend the Delhi Legislative Assembly from Monday, that is, March 27, 2023 till the remainder of the current session. The writ petition is allowed in the above terms,” Justice Singh said.
Senior advocate Jayant Mehta, appearing for Gupta, referred to the relevant rules which state that the suspension of a member has to be in a “graded manner” and on the first occasion, the suspension can be ordered for three sittings only.
However, Gupta has been suspended for a year which is not in accordance with the provision, he argued.
Advocate Sameer Vashisht, appearing for the Delhi assembly, submitted that such suspensions are not to be inquired into by any court.
He said Gupta’s suspension is by the House and not the Speaker and therefore, the House is fully empowered to issue a punishment of higher nature. In the petition, the legislator from Rohini said his suspension was “unfair, unjust, unreasonable” and contrary to the principles of natural justice as well as the law, including the Rules of Procedure & Conduct of Business, Legislative Assembly of National Capital Territory of Delhi.