HC dissmisses Mah Election Commissioner's petition

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Mumbai, Aug 14 (UNI) The Bombay High Court today dismissed the petition, filed by Maharashtra Election Commissioner Nand Lal, against the jail term awarded to him by State Legislature's Privilege Committee for contempt.

A division bench comprising Justices R M S Khandeparkar and Amjed Sayed, in their order, said the jail term awarded to Lal was not the violation of natural justice and that the petitioner had failed to make out the case against the respondents.

The court passed an order in response to the petition filed by Lal, challenging legality of sentence.

In the petition, Lal argued that the court, without going into the merit of privilege committee's decision, can examine whether the procedure adopted by the committee was legal or not.

Adv Shrihari Aney, appearing for Lal, submitted that the committee should have given Lal a separate show-cause notice when it decided to punish him for not appearing before it.

Lal was held guilty by the privilege committee in March this year for not appearing before it with regard to a breach of privilege motion moved against him by Congress MLA Janardan Chandurkar.

Lal, while refusing to appear before the committee, had sent a written reply. But the committee held him guilty of contempt for not appearing before it and sentenced him to two days' civil imprisonment.

In this case, the state assembly is not represented by anybody as it has resolved not to entertain any notice from the High Court in this case.

But senior lawyer Rafiq Dada, who assisted the court as an a 'amicus curiae' (friend of the court), pointed out that from the outset Lal had not responded to committee's summons.

The committee had asked him to appear before it and defend himself on charges of breach of privilege thrice, but he did not appear once, Mr Dada told the court.

Lal, in petition, claimed that the committee's decision was vendetta by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh as a reason for action against the latter.

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