Disqualified Congress MLA in Gujarat moves high court


Ahmedabad, Mar 11: Congress leader Bhagvan Barad Monday approached the Gujarat High Court, challenging his disqualification as an MLA by the Assembly speaker last week and also the declaration of bypoll to the seat represented by him. Barad challenged the declaration of bypoll by the Election Commission (EC) to the Talala assembly constituency in Gir Somnath district from where he was elected in 2017.
The EC had Sunday announced that by-elections to two Assembly seats in Gujarat, Unjha and Talala, will be held along with the Lok Sabha polls on April 23. The Unjha seat fell vacant after sitting Congress MLA Asha Patel resigned and joined the ruling BJP. Barad's petition is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday. Barad was declared disqualified from the Assembly by speaker Rajendra Trivedi on March 5, days after a court in Gir Somnath district sentenced him to two years and nine months in jail in an illegal mining case. Trivedi had said Barad stood automatically disqualified as per the Supreme Court's July 10, 2013 order that said MPs and MLAs are immediately disqualified from House membership after being sentenced to jail for not less than two years. Barad's conviction in the 1995 illegal mining case was stayed on March 7 by the same court that had pronounced him guilty.
The Congress leader said his disqualification should be revoked as per the apex court's September 2018 order which said that if an appellate court stayed the conviction of a disqualified lawmaker, his/her membership will get revived. In his petition, Barad has said that despite making representation before Trivedi to revoke his disqualification after his conviction was stayed by the same court, the speaker did not take any decision.
Barad's lawyer Hriday Buch has said his client's disqualification was "politically motivated and mala fide," and should be revoked.
The EC also did not consider his representation and went on to declare by-election to the constituency that Barad represented, Buch said. Since Barad was not disqualified as per the law, the EC has no authority to declare by-election to the Assembly seat he represented, he added.

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