Speaker gives Mar 8 deadline to Bhajan Lal

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Chandigarh, Mar 5 (UNI) Haryana Assembly Speaker Raghuvir Singh Kadian today asked former Chief Minister and sitting MLA Bhajan Lal, facing disqualification under the anti-defection law, to clarify till March eight whether he still belonged to the Congress or not.

The disgruntled Congress leader, who had launched a new political outfit Haryana Janhit Congress on December two last at a rally in Rohtak, is facing disqualification on defection charges, before a Vidhan Sabha tribunal headed by the Speaker.

Two other Congress MLAs Dharampal Malik and Rakesh Kamboj, who attended the Rohtak rally, are also facing similar charges.

The counsel of Mr Bhajan Lal, who has so far not appeared before the tribunal, sought exemption for his client due to sickness and pleaded he be given time till March 10 to explain his position. However, the tribunal granted him time till March eight.

After the hearing today, Speaker Kadian told reporters that the tribunal had asked Mr Lal to reply whether he still belonged to the Congress and also whether he had anything to do with the Haryana Janhit Congress.

The next hearing in the case would now take place on March eight, he said.

Mr Kadian said petitioner Shadi Lal Batra told the court that he would withdraw the petition If Mr Lal declared that he was still a part of the Congress and had nothing to do with the HJC.

The Speaker said he would also withdraw the proceedings against Mr Bhajan Lal if he gave an affidavit to this effect.

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