Apex court notice to Punjab government on Amarinder Singh’s expulsion

September 26th, 2008 - 8:04 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday refused to temporarily suspend the Punjab assembly order expelling former chief minister Amarinder Singh from the house for its remaining term.A bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice Cyric Joseph, however, issued notices to the state assembly and the government on a lawsuit by Singh challenging his Sep 10 expulsion.

The bench issued notice also to Attorney General of India Milon Banerjee, seeking his assistance in resolving the legal question on whether the state assembly is empowered to expel its sitting member. Singh had raised the question in his petition.

The bench also referred Singh’s suit to a larger bench for a detailed hearing Oct 1.

The Punjab assembly had expelled Singh after a nine-member special committee of the house found him guilty of causing pecuniary loss to the state exchequer worth millions of rupees by exempting from taxation a 32-acre plot of the Amritsar Improvement Trust, allocated to a private builder.

Singh was expelled for the remaining three and half years of the term of the assembly.

The special committee also indicted three others, including former ministers Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and late Raghunath Sahai Puri and former AIT chairman Jugal Kishore Sharma.

Appearing for Singh, senior counsel P.P. Rao, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Uday Lalit said the constitution does not empower a state assembly to expel a member.

Contending that the assembly can at most suspend its members and bar them for a limited period from attending the house, the counsel said the assembly order expelling SIngh was “illegal and unconstitutional” as it held him guilty before holding a criminal probe.

The counsel also termed as illegal the assembly secretariat’s communication to the Election Commission of India, declaring that the Patiala Town assembly seat, from where Singh was elected Singh, has fallen vacant and was seeking fresh election for it.

The counsel also challenged the assembly order directing the state’s chief secretary to lodge a criminal case against Singh and put him through “custodial interrogation” to “find out where Singh has hidden his ill-gotten wealth”.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier suspended this part of the state assembly order for custodial interrogation of Singh, but granted the state’s Vigilance Bureau the freedom to interrogate him if required.

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