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Supreme Court junks rebel AAP MLA's plea over disqualification

Rebel AAP legislator Sehrawat challenged a disqualification notice sent to him by the Delhi Assembly Secretariat under the anti-defection law for joining the BJP

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Supreme Court junks rebel AAP MLA's plea over disqualification
File photo of Devinder Sehrawat (centre) joining the BJP BJP/Twitter
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The Supreme Court on Friday refused to stay disqualification proceedings initiated by the Delhi Assembly Speaker against rebel Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Devinder Sehrawat under the anti-defection law.

The vacation bench of the apex court also asked him to state his defence in his response to be submitted to the Speaker next week.

Sehrawat attracted disqualification petition from AAP spokesperson and MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj for defecting to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in May, with days to go before Delhi polled on May 12 in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections. Bhardwaj told the Court that for the past four years, the AAP has been distancing him from all political meetings. He also contended that the disqualification notice was premature since he had not filled the primary membership form of the BJP. He urged the Court to stay the proceeding as a related question of law on the status of an expelled legislator is pending consideration with the Supreme Court.

SEHRAWAT’S PETITION

  • Rebel AAP legislator Sehrawat challenged a disqualification notice sent to him by the Delhi Assembly Secretariat under the anti-defection law for joining the BJP
     
  • Sehrawat, in his petition, contended that he had not filled the primary membership form of the BJP so the disqualification notice was premature

The vacation bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai enquired whether Sehrawat had been expelled from the party. To this, lawyer Rahul Raj Malik appearing for Sehrawat failed to give any conclusive response. He informed the Court that the petitioner has been suspended. The bench said, "We are not sure whether you are expelled. The matter against you is still pending with the Speaker (of Delhi Assembly). We will not interfere."

When Sehrawat's counsel urged the Court to keep the petition pending till the legal issue on status of the expelled legislator is decided by the apex court, the bench refused. It said, "The issue before us concerns the status of those legislators who are expelled from a party but who have not joined any other party or floated any party of their own. The complaint against you is not of expulsion but that you joined another political party. You answer all this before the Speaker."

The Court allowed the council to withdraw the petition, stating that if any adverse order is passed against him by the Speaker, the remedy of approaching a judicial forum will be open to him. Interestingly, on the previous two dates when Sehrawat sought hearing of his petition, former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee appeared for him. But on Friday, his absence was conspicuous.

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