MLA’s suspension for using derogatory remarks against female member while House was transacting serious business, held, does not require interference: Delhi HC

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. dismissed the petition filed by a member of Delhi Legislative Assembly– Om Prakash Sharma– seeking to set aside the motion passed by the Assembly whereby he was suspended for two subsequent sessions of the Assembly.

The foremost question before the court was “under what circumstances and to what extent a High Court, exercising powers under Article 226 of the constitution of India, can interfere in the decision taken on the Floor of the Legislative Assembly.” As to this, the Court relied on Special Reference No. 1 of 1964, (1965) 1 SCR 413, wherein it was held that “State” includes the legislature of such State, and so, prima facie the power conferred on the High Court under Article 226 (1) can, in a proper case, be exercised even against the legislature.

Further, for adjudication of the main matter, the Court perused the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business made by the Delhi Legislative Assembly. Under the said rules, if the speaker is of the opinion that the notice of breach of privilege or contempt is fit for giving consent and is admissible under the rules, he may refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation and report. In the present case, on 24-11-2015, the petitioner uttered the words raat bar ghoomne wali with respect to a lady member of the Assembly– Alka Lamba. The Ethics Committee of the House concluded that the petitioner uttered the said words in most undignified manner. The petitioner was found guilty of conduct unbecoming of an MLA and he was subsequently suspended from the house as aforementioned.

The conduct of the Petitioner satisfies the test laid down by the Supreme Court in Amarinder Singh v. Punjab Vidhan Sabha, (2010) 6 SCC 113. The derogatory remarks were made on the floor of the House during a debate on a public issue. It had a direct connection and bears proximity to the duties, role, and functions of the petitioner as a legislator. His conduct caused obstruction of the legislative function of the House as it led to the disruption of the proceedings of the House for two days. In such circumstances, the Court held that the order impugned did not call for interference. The petition was, thus, dismissed. [Om Prakash v. Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12142, dated 30-10-2018]

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