Gujarat High Court rejects Bhaga Barad’s plea against disqualification

Ahmedabad: In a major setback for main opposition Congress party in Gujarat, the High Court here today rejected a plea of party leader Bagha Barad challenging his disqualification as an MLA due to his conviction in a mineral theft case for over two years.

The High Court refused to stay by-election of Talala assembly constituency and upheld Barad’s disqualification.

As per section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, Barad was disqualified with effect from the date of his conviction in Sutrapada court in which he was given 2 years 9 months jail in mineral theft case.

Detail note:

The Gujarat High Court today rejected the plea of disqualified Congress MLA from Talala seat Bhagwan Barad challenging assembly speaker’s decision.

The court of Justice S R Brahmbhatt also refused to put an stay on the by-poll in Talala slated to be held with Loksabha election on all the 26 seats in Gujarat on April 23.

Meanwhile it was not immediately clear whether Barad, who will not be able to contest the by-poll in the wake of his disqualification, would now approach a higher court or not.

The Election Commission which was hit out by the court two days back had yesterday submitted its reply on affidavit in the court. It said that the ECI only announced the by-election after the vacancy on the seat. It was commission’s duty and it could not scrutinize the decision of the speaker at its own. It also denied that it showed any haste in announcement of by poll which it deemed fit to conduct with the coming Lok sabha polls.

Barad’s counsel had argued that disqualification was not in accordance with law. It was done hastily by the speaker due to political reasons. The conviction was stayed by a sessions court later. The high court accepted the ECI’s version and rejected the plea.

Barad had on March 11 moved Gujarat High court to challenge the decision of assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi who had disqualified him on March 5 after a local court in Surtrapada town in Gir Somnath district convicted him in a mineral theft case. The court of Judicial Magistrate on March 1 held him guilty under section 379 (theft) and 420 (cheating) and sentenced him with 2 year 9 month jail term in connection with the case pertaining to theft of mineral (limestone) worth over 2.5 crore from a Gochar (cow-pasture) land in Sutrapada in 1995. Barad however got bail in the case. Later the sessions court stayed this order.

The state government also approached the High court challenging this stay saying that the sessions court has not mentioned any reason for it. The court of Justice Sonia Gokani had heard it and in her order dated March 15 revoked it saying that no reason has been assigned for it.

“As per the Supreme Court judgment of July 2013, Congress MLA from Talala, Barad has been declared disqualified as a member of the Assembly subsequent to his conviction by a trial court in Sutrapada in Gir Somnath district on March 1,” a notification issued by the office of the speaker on March 5 read.

Notably as per the section 8(3) of the Representation of the people Act 1951, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.


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