In a major development on Saturday, a 58-year-old Congress MLA named Pradeep Chaudhary has been disqualified from the Haryana State Assembly after he was convicted in a decade-old riot case by a Himachal Pradesh court.
Pradeep Chaudhary, who represented the Kalka Assembly, has been sentenced to 3 years behind bars and penalised ₹85,000 by the Nalagarh court in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. He was found guilty on charges of assault, rioting and other penal offences on January 14 this year. Apart from the MLA, fourteen others too were convicted and sentenced to three years in jail.
“Consequent upon the conviction of Pradeep Chaudhary, MLA under sections 143, 341, 147 of the IPC, by the court of Jitender Kumar, Judicial Magistrate 1st Class, Nalagarh, District Solan, Chaudhary, representing the Kalka Assembly constituency of Haryana, stands disqualified from the membership of Haryana Vidhan Sabha from the date of his conviction, that is January 14, 2021,” the Haryana assembly secretariat issued a notification.
The Background of the Case
On May 31, 2011, a resident of Paploha village climbed atop an electric pole in Barotiwala village in the Nalagarh constituency to avoid traffic police check. However, he came into contact with a live wire, resulting in severe injury. He eventually died while undergoing treatment at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh.
Soon, a mob put his body at the Red Light Chowk in protest. The agitation soon culminated into violence and attack on police officials. The frenzied mob set two buses and a pick-up vehicle on fire and blocked vehicular movement on the highway. It is important to mention that Pradeep Chaudhary was part of the mob that was involved in rioting.
Congress MLA cannot contest elections until 6 years of his release
Chaudhary has been disqualified under Section 8 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which calls for automatic disqualification in case of conviction and a subsequent jail term of more than 2 years. The disqualification is enforceable from the date of disqualification. Such an individual cannot contest elections until 6 years of their release. As such, the Kalka Vidhan Sabha constituency has been declared as vacant.
While speaking about the development, Additional solicitor general Satya Pal Jain informed, “If the high court stays the conviction of the MLA, then his membership of the assembly will get restored from that day. But the restoration of membership will not be applicable if the high court only grants him bail.”
Plans to move no-confidence motion against the BJP fails
The development comes as a blow to the Congress party, which had been contemplating moving a no-confidence motion against the incumbent BJP-JJP government. The simple majority of the 90-member Haryana Vidhan Sabha has now fallen to 45, following Pradeep Chaudhary’s disqualification and the resignation of INLD MLA Abhay Singh Chautala last week. While the Congress has just 30 seats, the BJP has 40 MLAs and JJP has 10. The Haryana Lokhit Party has one seat and 5 out of 7 independent candidates support the ruling dispensation.