Gujarat Assembly Speaker Vaju Vala today suspended 35-odd Congress MLAs for creating ruckus.
During the post-lunch session, as the law minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja was speaking about budgetary allocations for his department, Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar interrupted him over the issue of pending cases in state courts.
Parmar had earlier claimed that law department was not doing enough to clear the backlog of cases. "There are around 23 lakh cases pending in the courts. In Gujarat High Court too, 52,000 criminal and 26,000 civil cases are pending. It is happening because there are only 33 judges in HC against the sanctioned strength of 42. In total, 653 vacancies of judges are yet to be filled across all the courts in Gujarat," Parmar said in his speech earlier.
The minister replied that number of cases increased due to rise in population and prosperity. "Every year, nine lakh new cases are registered, mainly because increase in population and business activities. It shows that people are having faith in the judicial system. That is why 63,000 more cases than Bihar and UP were registered here in 2012," Jadeja said.
But this did not satisfy Parmar, and several other Congress MLAs rose and started shouting slogans against the government, claiming that number of cases had increased because of the deteriorating law and order situation.
Though the speaker warned them several times, many of them including MLA from Khedbrahma Ashwin Kotwal rushed towards the well and shouted slogans.
Some other Congress MLAs waved banners saying 'stop illegal sale of liquor' and 'stop cow slaughter'. They sat before the Speaker, in the well, flashing the banners.
As the situation didn't improve, Vala suspended all the protesting MLAs for a day, except a few including Congress's chief whip Balwantsinh Rajput, who along with the remaining MLAs decided to walk out.
Some Congress MLAs did not leave despite being suspended, so the Speaker asked marshalls to take them out. Kotwal, whose shirt got torn, alleged later that he was manhandled.
"To voice the concern of people, we were protesting against illegal liquor dens flourishing in the state with the blessings of government. BJP ministers didn't like it and sent us out. My shirt was torn and I was thrashed so much that I have to take medical treatment," he claimed outside.
Leader of opposition Shankersinh Vaghela warned the government of state-wide protests.
"Criminals involved in bootlegging and cow-slaughter are being protected by the BJP government. Law and order situation has completely deteriorated. With the blessings of ministers, BJP men are involved in these illegal activities," he told reporters.
"Gujarat is turning into a hub for drug and liquor sale. We will stage state-wide protests, which a large number of common people will join... If things get out of control, it will be the responsibility of the state government," he said.
In the first half too three Congress MLAs were suspended for half a day. These legislators - Harshad Ribadiya, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and Raghavji Patel - were insisting on a debate on agricultural insurance scheme.