Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Friday passed a resolution restoring the membership of two expelled Congress MLAs but questions remained over their fate after the Election Commission had declared their seats vacant.

At a five-minute special session, the House adopted a resolution reinstating Choudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi and Kalpana Parulekar, whose membership was terminated on July 18 for unruly behaviour with the chair for which they had expressed regret later.

"On Friday is a historic day in the parliamentary history of the country as the House will pass a resolution on the restoration of the membership of two Congress MLAs—Choudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi and Kalpana Parulekar," Speaker Ishwardas Rohani said.

The resolution moved by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra was passed without any discussion.

The House was immediately adjourned sine die thereafter. The Assembly will now inform the Election Commission about the restoration of the membership of the two MLAs and urge it to re-issue a notification saying that the two seats held by them, which had earlier been declared vacant, were now filled.

"We do not feel that whatever happened in the Assembly on Friday deserves to be welcomed," Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh told reporters even as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan termed it as a "trend setter".

Singh slammed the ruling party for having expelled the MLAs without giving them a chance to put across their views and said the matter should have been referred to the Privileges Committee.

Maintaining that many options were available to the government, he said instead of taking recourse to anyone of those it had chosen the drastic step of terminating the membership of the MLAs.

Singh said the MLAs had not apologised to secure their reinstatement and noted that the way they were expelled did not need meet the demands of natural justice.

The Opposition leader deplored the "tearing hurry" with which their membership had been terminated, saying the resolution for expulsion was received at the Assembly secretariat at 10.25 AM and adopted at 11.55 AM.

However, Chouhan termed on Friday's development as "historic".

"The convening of the special session is a historic day in the parliamentary history of Madhya Pradesh as the house adopted a unanimous resolution restoring the membership of the two Congress MLAs," he said after the the House adjourned sine die.

Chouhan said that after the termination of the membership of Chaturvedi and Parulekar, leader of Opposition Singh, Deputy Speaker, Harvansh Singh and others had pitched for a reconsideration, saying the decision was too harsh.

After the two MLAs submitted letter to the Speaker voicing their regret, a decision was taken to restore their membership according to the "glorious traditions of this country".

"The decision will prove to be an example in the parliamentary history of the country," he said. Asked if the Assembly's decision was binding on the Election Commission which had already notified the seats as
vacant, the Chief Minister said he was not in a position to comment on it.

Speaker Ishwardas Rohani, however, claimed the move was "totally constitutional" as the Speaker was vested with "unlimited powers".

Rohani said he had "full faith" in the Election Commission and hoped it will endorse the House's decision. However, state JD(U) president Govind Yadav termed the entire process of disqualification of MLAs and subsequent reinstatement as "totally unconstitutional". Yadav said, "before terminating the membership of the two MLAs, the Speaker should have referred the matter to the Privileges Committee".

"The Assembly has no powers to restore their membership as the seats have already been notified as vacant by the Election Commission and now only it (the EC) has the authority to fill it by holding a by-poll," said Yadav, who has petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee, the Election Commission and the state Governor on the issue.

A PIL challenging convening of the special session to restore membership of Chaturvedi and Parulekar was filed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur on Thursday.

The petitioner, Sanjeev Pandey, has contended that the Assembly after disqualifying its member has no power to restore their membership and the vacant seats can be filled only by the Election Commission after conducting a fresh poll.

Since the case was not listed in the roster, the bench of Justices Ajit Singh and Sanjay Yadav asked Pandey to file the petition in a regular court which entertains PIL.

The membership of the two MLAs was scrapped on July 18 after unruly scenes following the Congress demand for discussion on corruption prevailing in the state, particularly the recent Income Tax raids on two businessmen it claimed were associated with the ruling BJP.

The Opposition members had submitted notices of adjournment motions on the issue, but after some discussion, Speaker Rohani declined to accept the notices stating that IT raids cannot be discussed in the House.

During the ruckus, the two MLAs had climbed the Speaker's podium and allegedly "misbehaved" with presiding member Gyan Singh, who was in the chair. The House had later adopted a resolution ending their membership.


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