Decision on resignation of 3 independent MLAs by May end: Himachal speaker

Shimla : 18 May : Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania said that the final decision regarding the acceptance of resignations of three Independent MLAs and initiating action under the anti-defection law would be taken by the end of May or early June.

The conduct of the Independent MLAs indicated that they were under “duress” and therefore, an inquiry was initiated and an explanation was sought from them, the Speaker told reporters.

Later, they were also issued notices when Congress leaders filed a fresh petition for action against these MLAs under the anti-defection law, he added.

Three Independent MLAs – Hoshiyar Singh, Ashish Sharma and K LThakur – had voted in favour of BJP nominee Harsh Mahajan in the Rajya Sabha polls held on February 27.

They resigned from the assembly on March 22 and joined the BJP the next day before their resignations were accepted and “our Constitution does not permit Independent MLAs to join a political party”, the Speaker said.

Both the parties (Independent and Congress legislators) were called on Saturday but they did not turn up, maybe due to electioneering and the final hearing would be held in May end or early June, he added.

Congress leaders Jagat Singh Negi and Harish Janartha had on April 24 filed a fresh petition with the Speaker for action against the three Independent MLAs under the anti-defection law.

They alleged that these Independent MLAs had resigned and joined the BJP even though their resignations were pending with the Speaker, which attracts action under the anti-defection law.

The Speaker had earlier issued a showcause notice to these legislators and sought an explanation from them till April 10 following a representation from the Congress legislative party that these MLAs allegedly resigned under duress, and not voluntarily.

The Independent MLAs had also moved the high court on April 10 for acceptance of their resignations but the case could not be decided as the division bench consisting of Chief Justice M S Ramachandra Rao and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua expressed divergent views on whether the court can issue directions to the Speaker in this regard.

The matter will now be decided by a fresh bench.