The Supreme Court, on 16th October, issued notice on a writ petition filed by AAP leader Raghav Chadha, challenging his suspension from the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session on 11th August.
Supreme Court Bench Issues Notice
The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra, issued notice to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat regarding Raghav Chadha’s suspension from Rajya Sabha, and posted the matter to 30th October. The bench also requested the presence of the Attorney General to assist the Court.
Chadha had moved a motion in the Rajya Sabha to refer the Delhi Services Bill to the select committee and he named certain MPs as the proposed members of the Committee, during the Monsoon Session. Allegedly, Chadha had included the names of those MPs in the motion, without their consent, although they were members of parties which supported the Bill. His action violated rule 72 of the Rajya Sabha rules and thus the chairman suspended him, the enquiry being pending by the committee of privileges.
Arguments by the Senior Advocate Representing Raghav Chadha
Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi raised certain questions while appearing for Chadha, and said that it was an “issue of national importance” : Whether there is any justification to suspend a Member of Parliament when there is a pending enquiry; whether such an order could be passed after the matter is referred to the privilege committee based on the very grounds for the purpose of examination, investigation and report; whether, assuming that rule 72 has been breached by the petitioner owing to the fact that he did not take the consent of the MPs who were proposed to be nominated to the committee, would it in any case amount to a breach of privilege of the house.
Additionally, he also questioned whether rule 256 and rule 266 empower the Chairman of Rajya Sabha to pass an order of suspension when there is a pending inquiry and whether for such a breach, the rule of proportionality would apply.
Dwivedi also argued that rule 266 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, empowers the Chairman to issue general directions and invoking this power, but the Chairman cannot suspend a member.
AOR Shadan Farasat, also representing Chadha, argued that there is no ‘privilege’ existing in respect of this incident and thus there cannot be a “breach of privilege” as cited in the Supreme Court’s judgement in Ashish Shelar v. State of Maharashtra (2022), which ruled that a member of the house cannot be suspended beyond a session and such suspension would be arbitrary and illegal.
The bench indicated its willingness to issue notice, but Dwivedi stated that he is not seeking any interim relief.
The MP from Punjab also adopted a similar argument in his petition where he questioned the decision of the Rajya Sabha Chairperson, pointing out that the suspension was ordered on the last day of the Monsoon Session and it is sustaining even now, even after the end of the Monsoon Session and the following Special Session. He refereed Rule 256 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, which includes a categorical prohibition against suspension of any Member for a period which exceeds the remainder of the Session.
He regarded the decision of the Rajya Sabha chairperson as “selectively targeting a vocal member of Parliament of the Opposition.”
He also argued that the indefinite suspension beyond the Monsoon session is illegal, manifestly arbitrary, unconstitutional, and erosive of the rights of representation to the people of Punjab.