Patna: A JD(U) minister on Monday defended disqualification of four rebels ruling party MLAs as members of Bihar Assembly on a charge of working against the party during the recently held by-polls to two Rajya Sabha seats.
The four former JD(U) MLAs - Gyanendra Singh Gyanoo (Barh), Neeraj Singh Babloo (Chhatapur), Ravindra Rai (Mahua) and Rahul Sharma (Ghoshi) - had indulged in anti-party activities by proposing candidature of the independent candidates - Sabir Ali and Anil Kumar Sharma against the ruling party candidates in Rajya Sabha bypolls earlier this year to invite disqualification proceedings against them under provisions of the anti-defection law, Sahi told reporters here.
Sahi, a legal luminary and former advocate general of Bihar, had assisted Shrawan Kumar - the ruling party chief whip in the legislative assembly - during disqualification proceedings against the four rebel JD(U) MLAs earlier this year.
Explaining legal and factual position in the matter, Sahi said that the four rebel JD(U) MLAs had not only stopped at proposing candidature of the two independent candidates in Rajya Sabha bypolls but later served as their agents during polling and counting of votes which clearly amounted to their brazen indulgence in anti-party activities.
The four rebel MLAs were given ample opportunities to defend their conduct during disqualification proceedings in the court of the Speaker which went on for several months.
The petitioner submitted documentary proofs and other material evidences against the errant ruling party MLAs, Sahi said adding that the presiding officer had applied the principles of natural justice by giving opportunities to all the rebel MLAs to defend their case.
On denial of privileges and perks to these four MLAs after disqualification under anti-defection law, Shahi said that it (denial of perks and privileges) would have come automatically upon disqualification even if the Speaker would not have said so in as many words in his ruling.
In the present case, all four MLAs of the 15th
legislative assembly will not get perks and privileges as ex-MLAs as they have ceased to be members for the entire five-year term and not for remaining period of their term, Shahi said.
But any of these four disqualified MLAs will be entitled for such benefits in the event of having served as legislator in previous assemblies, he said and quoted observation by the Supreme Court in Ravi S. Nayak disqualification case in 1992.
On accusations by the four disqualified MLAs that they were selectively discriminated by the ruling party, Shahi said that it was for a political party to initiate action against its members or not if such a member apologizes for his conduct and seeks forgiveness from leadership.
There were other ruling party MLAs who had committed activities akin to the disqualified members, but many of them apologized to the party and expressed allegiance with it and its leadership after which they were spared from disciplinary action, the Forest and Environment Minister said, adding in any case, it was the prerogative of the party to act or not against a particular member or MLA.
On the four disqualified MLAs moving the Patna High Court to challenge their disqualification by the Speaker, Shahi said that the four former MLAs were entitled to judicial remedy before higher courts, but added that the courts have limited jurisdiction to review such matters.
At the end of the day, if the court finds fault with the order, it can set aside the order (disqualification of four JD(U) MLAs, he said.