SC refuses to stay HP Assembly Speaker order disqualifying rebel Congress MLAs

Filing of nominations for six vacant assembly seats starts on May 7.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the order of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker disqualifying six Congress rebels, who had cross-voted in the recent Rajya Sabha polls in the state.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta issued notice to the office of HP Assembly speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania and sought its response to the plea in four weeks.

The bench said that pending adjudication of their plea, rebel HP Congress MLAs will not be allowed to vote or participate in the proceedings of the Assembly.

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“On the question of by-election on six vacant seats, we will have to examine whether the elections which have been notified by the ECI are to be stayed during the pendency of plea,” the bench said.

It posted the matter for listing on May 6 and gave the rebel MLAs a week to file their rejoinder.

The filing of nominations for six vacant assembly seats starts on May 7.

The six rebels — Sudhir Sharma, Ravi Thakur, Rajinder Rana, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Chetanya Sharma and Devinder Kumar Bhutto — were disqualified on February 29, for defying a Congress whip to be present in the House and vote in favour of the Himachal Pradesh government during the cut motion and budget.

Following the disqualification of the rebels, the House’s effective strength has gone down to 62 from 68, while the number of Congress MLAs has shrunk to 34 from 40.

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