The Haryana Janhit Congress, founded by former chief minister Bhajan Lal, on Wednesday moved the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking the disqualification of five Members of Legislative Assembly who were elected on party tickets but subsequently joined the ruling Congress.
Acting on the petition, Justice Permod Kohli issued a notice to Haryana assembly Speaker H S Chatha and the five MLAs Satpal Sangwan, Rao Narinder Singh, Dharampal Chokker, Vinod Bhayana and Zile Ram Sharma. The notice is returnable on September 1.
HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi filed a writ petition seeking the disqualification of the MLAs under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.
Justice Kohli also issued a notice to the Election Commission returnable on September 1.
The five MLAs were elected on HJC ticket last year but later switched over to the Congress, which had won 40 seats in the 90-member state assembly, failing to get a simple majority by six seats.
Later, the Congress got the unconditional support of seven Independents, the lone Bahujan Samaj Party member and the five MLAs of the HJC who merged their breakaway group with the ruling party.
Counsel for the petitioner Satya Pal Jain submitted before the Court today that in the Haryana assembly elections held in October 2009, six members (including Bishnoi) were elected on HJC (Bhajan Lal) ticket, which is a recognised political party.
"On November 9, 2009, four members and on 10th the 5th member of HJC submitted applications to the Speaker of Haryana Vidhan Sabha saying the legislators of Haryana Janhit Congress have decided to merge the party with Indian National Congress," Jain told the Court.
He said that on the same day the Speaker, without giving any notice to the president of HJC (Bishnoi), passed two orders accepting the 'merger'.
Jain said the order of the Speaker accepting the 'merger' is 'unconstitutional'.
"The Speaker did not give any opportunity of hearing to the president of HJC before passing the order and secondly, even otherwise, the legislative wing of any party is not competent to take any decision about the merger," he submitted.
Jain contended that the legislative group of any political party is a wing of the party and its decision cannot be called the decision of the main political party.
He further submitted that HJC never decided to merge with any other party and is still functioning as such in Haryana assembly and in the Parliament.
HJC has former chief minister Bhajan Lal as its lone MP in the Lok Sabha.
Bishnoi had in December last year also filed a petition before the Speaker for the disqualification of the five MLAs and a few hearings in the case have already taken place. Another hearing in his petition before the Speaker is slated for later.
Meanwhile, besides Bishnoi, main opposition Indian National Lok Dal's three legislators Ajay Singh Chautala, Ashok Arora and S S Badshami had earlier filed separate petitions before the Speaker seeking disqualification of the five legislators under the anti-defection law.