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Above: Sharad Yadav (file picture). Photo: UNI

Court allows MP’s allowance and bungalow

Even as the Winter session of Parliament commended on Friday (December 15) with the Opposition clamouring for the disqualification of the JDU members of the Nitish Kumar-led faction of the realignment in Bihar instead of disqualifying Sharad Yadav, the Delhi High Court refused to put a stay on the disqualification of Yadav.

The case came up before the bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru. The plea is about the disqualification of Yadav from the Rajya Sabha. Yadav wants an interim stay on the order of Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu who disqualified him as a member of the Rajya Sabha. Yadav’s term as a member of the Rajya Sabha ends in 2022. Another leader who is disqualified is Anwar Ali and his term as a Rajya Sabha member ends next year.

The JD(U) top brass argues that both senior leaders Yadav and Ali voluntarily gave up their membership, because both attended events in the opposition party.There disqualification was done under the “Anti-defection Act”.

Ram Chandra Prasad is a leader of the JD(U) who is opposing the plea of Sharad Yadav.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Yadav, presented to the bench newspaper reports and video clips.

The bench asked if the entire issue is about Yadav not leaving the party, but his Chief Minister (Nitish Kumar) doing so.

Sibal agreed.

The petitioner’s lawyer showed Schedule 10 of People representations Act which says that disqualification not apply in case of merger. “There is no concept of a slip in the 10th schedule. He has not merged with anybody,” he said.

Sibal pointed out how the Maha Gathbandhan was formed on an anti-BJP plank and “now the Election Commission has said on the basis of number they (the faction of Nitish) are the party.”

Yadav showed his strength in the council and said that the Election Commission was biased against Yadav and that “I am arguing that they cannot pass an order without a trial.”

The bench put a critical question to the petitioner: “Which is the party then? When you oppose the symbol of the same party, how can it be determined that you are of the same party?”

The petitioner’s counsel said: “See the symbol order. The Commission recognised the state party and the national party.”

Bench let us tested in another way. “A member cannot be disqualified if the original party merges with another political party. There has to be evaluation of the original party. The chairman cannot decide on the symbol matter. No evidence has been seen. The chairman cannot decide on the symbols matter which is pending before the court.”

In the end the bench said: “We pass an order keeping your allowances including teh house. We can’t hold your disqualification…. This court is not inclined to interfere with the Election Commission. But we are keeping the allowances of the petitioner and his house. But the court is not holding the disqualification.”

The respondents (Union of India) have been asked to file its counter-affidavit within three weeks and the rejoinder. The matter will be heard again on March 6, 2018.

—India Legal Bureau

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