The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday quashed the election of Congress MLA Mohammad Sadiq, who was elected from Bhadaur (Sangrur), a seat reserved for Scheduled Castes, in the 2012 assembly polls.
Sadiq’s election had been challenged by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Darbara Singh Guru, a former IAS officer, on the ground that the Congress leader had contested from an SC seat despite being a Muslim.
The HC, in its order, held that Sadiq had failed to prove his conversion from Islam to Sikhism. “Since he is a Muslim, he is not qualified to contest the election on a seat reserved for the Scheduled Castes,” the bench of justice NK Sanghi said while pronouncing the judgment in the open court, disqualifying Sadiq as an MLA. The detailed order is awaited.
Guru was present in the court at the time of the judgment. However, Sadiq skipped the hearing.
Representing the SAD-BJP candidate, senior advocate Satya Pal Jain had argued that as per the Constitution, reservation under the SC quota could be provided to those who professed Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Being a Muslim, Sadiq was not qualified to get the benefit of SC reservation, Jain had contended. Sadiq had claimed that he earlier professed Islam but had converted to Sikhism in 2006.
With this disqualification, the number of Congress MLAs in the Punjab assembly has gone down to 42. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has 58 MLAs and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 12. There are three Independents in the 117-member House. The Dhuri assembly seat will witness a bypoll on April 11.
*Sadiq can challenge the high court order in the Supreme Court. If the HC order is stayed, he will continue to be an MLA till the final order. In that case, he can participate in Vidhan Sabha proceedings but not vote in the House
*If the Supreme Court grants conditional stay, it all depends on what the apex court allows
*If the order is not stayed by the Supreme Court, it is up to the Election Commission of India to declare the seat vacant or not. On many occasions, the EC did not declare the seat vacant, keeping in mind that the election order was sub judice.
Punjab House now
117 Total seats in assembly
Bhadaur seat vacant after Sadiq’s disqualification; Dhuri byelection on April 11