The Supreme Court has expressed grave concern over the indefinite suspension of Aam Aadmi Party MP Raghav Chadha from Rajya Sabha and said the exclusion of a member of the political opposition from the house was a “serious matter”.
"Such kind of indefinite suspension will have ramifications on the people whose constituency is going unrepresented? Where is the power of the privilege committee to indefinitely suspend the member?" asked a bench comparising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra on Monday.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Chadha challenging his indefinite suspension from the Rajya Sabha.
The MP was suspended on the last day of the Monsoon session for "gross violation of rules, misconduct, defiant attitude and contemptuous conduct", pending a report by the Privileges Committee.
The upper house passed a motion moved by the Leader of the House Piyush Goyal on August 11 seeking action against the AAP leader for including the names of some members of the Upper House without their consent in a proposed select committee for considering the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
During the hearing, the top court asked whether the action of Chadha would amount to a breach of parliamentary privilege.
Pointing out that the only charge against Chadha was that he did not verify the willingness of members before proposing to include them in the select committee, CJI Chandrachud asked if it could be an infraction warranting indefinite suspension, reported Live Law.
"Is this worse than the disruption of proceedings? Is this really on a higher level? A person who disrupts the house is excluded for the rest of the session. In this case alleged infraction is that he didn't verify. Some proportionality is now an invented part of our jurisprudence," the CJI said.
Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, representing Chadha, said that the AAP legislator has already apologised for the act and expressed readiness to give a written apology to the chairperson as well.
In his petition, the MP had said that the power to suspend indefinitely is dangerously open to excesses and abuse. Chadha said his suspension was in clear breach of Rule 256 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States.
The court asked Chadha’s counsel and Attorney General N. Venkataramani to submit their respective notes on the issue. The matter will be heard next on Friday.