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A Division Bench of the Hyderabad High Court has suspended the order of a single judge restoring the membership of two Congress Party legislators, who had been expelled by a resolution passed by the house.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice V Ramasubramanian, was hearing a writ appeal, filed by the Telangana Law Secretary V. Niranjan Rao, and Legislature Secretary V Narasimhacharyulu, challenging the order of Justice B Siva Sankara Rao.
Both bureaucrats had been issued formal notices by the single judge and had been asked to be present before the Court in September and explain their failure in not restoring the membership of the legislators. This and the effect of show cause notices issued to three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers and the speaker of the assembly also stand suspended for a period of two months.
The appeal was filed 61 days after the expiry of the stipulated period within which the appeal against the single judge order was to be filed. This delay has also been condoned.
Ravishankar Jandhyala appearing for the expelled legislators argued that given the circumstances in which the appeal was filed, a delay of even six days should not be condoned, let alone 61.
He submitted that the appellants had sought time twice after the institution of contempt proceedings, purportedly to ensure compliance with the order. He added that the single judge had been wantonly misled and that there was not even a whisper of any disagreement with the order during the contempt proceedings which had lasted more than two months. He added that condoning such behaviour would affect the majesty of the Court and that it constituted an abuse of process by the two bureaucrats.
Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the appellants argued that these submissions were nothing but rhetoric and that the two officials had an undisputed right to appeal.
The Court agreed with this argument and observed that the appellants did not irrevocably forfeit their right, by submitting to the impugned order of the single judge. Jandhyala had referred to their participation in contempt proceedings to try and prove that the appellants had indeed accepted the order.
Noting that this was no ordinary case given the legislature’s involvement, the Bench ruled that the sum and substance of the judgment must be examined and that the arguments of both sides merited a full hearing. The Bench added that there were important questions of law to be considered.
The matter will be heard next in four weeks time.