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Mah Assembly Speaker will not respond to HC notice

Written by: Staff

Mumbai, Apr 20 (UNI) In an unprecedented move to safeguard its privilege rights, the Maharashtra Assembly today unanimously decided not to take cognizance of the ''request letter'' from Bombay High Court asking the Speaker to appear before it tomorrow.

The request letter from High Court came yesterday while admitting a criminal writ petition by Bar Owners Association president Manjit Singh Sethi, who has challenged the 90-day jail sentence for breach of privilege.

Making a suo-motuo statement when the Lower House was debating on the Opposition-sponsored Last Week Motion on the Law and Order situation in the State, Speaker Babasaheb Kupekar said the Court's request letter was hand delivered to his office by Manjit Singh Sethi's son yesterday.

''I called a meeting of group leaders in the Lower House to take a decision on whether to accept the letter or not. During the meeting, several precedents of presiding officers rejecting court notices in such cases were recalled and it was decided that I will not respond to the notice '', the Speaker said and sought the approval of the House.

The motion moved by Mr Kupekar was passed unanimously by a voice vote.

The Legislative Assembly sentenced Sethi to 90 days imprisonment on April 12, the same day, when Bombay High Court struck down the government's decision to ban dances in the bars.

Sethi was arrested the same day. He later moved Bombay High court challenging the sentence.

The Speaker said Mr Sethi's lawyer came to his office to inform him of the writ petition. He said the request letter was given despite senior government counsel Rafif Dada bringing the constitutional provisions under Article 194 and 212 to the notice of the court.

The notice of breach of privilege was moved by BJP member Sudhir Mungantiwar on March 31 against Manjit Singh Sethi on his remarks that bar girls would not allow ministers' wives to freely move on the streets, a day after the announcement was made in the House by Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil that dance bars in the state would be banned.

The notice was admitted on April seven and sent to the privilege committee.


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