Holding that the Haryana assembly speaker had caused "unnecessary delay" in deciding disqualification petitions against the five MLAs, who switched to Congress after being elected on HJC-BL tickets, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday declared them as "unattached members" of the House.
A division bench comprising justices M M Kumar and Gurdev Singh, while accepting the contention of Kuldeep Bishnoi, President of HJC-BL who sought disqualification of the five MLAs, suspended the two orders of the Speaker issued in November 2009 allowing their merger with Congress.
After the Assembly elections in 2009, the Congress, which could win 40 seats in the 90-member House, was short of six members to get a simple majority. Five of the six HJC-BL members merged with the Congress which also got the support of seven Independents and formed the government.
"MLAs Satpal Sangwan, Vinod Bhayana, Narendra Singh, Zile Ram Sharma and Dharam Singh will not be deemed to be members of the INC party nor that of HJC (BL) till a decision on their disqualification petitions is taken," the Bench said.
"However, they will continue to be regarded as unattached members for the purposes of attending the session and for no other purpose," it added.
"They shall also not hold any office till a decision on disqualification petitions is taken. The Speaker shall allot them a separate set of seats in the House.
"However, their status shall be subject to the final decision of the Speaker on the petitions pending before him," the court said directing him to decide on the petitions by April 30 next year.
While Sangwan and Singh are Cabinet ministers for Revenue and Health respectively in the Haryana government, Bhayana is the chief parliamentary secretary.