BHOPAL: Over a month after disqualification as State Assembly member following conviction and two years jail sentence by a Special Court in a 2014 case, first-time BJP MLA Prahlad Lodhi got his House membership back in the wake of favourable Madhya Pradesh High Court and Supreme Court orders.
The Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati announced his decision to restore the BJP MLA’s House membership following a two-hours long meeting with the Leader of Opposition (LoP) Gopal Bhargava at former’s native Narsinghpur district on Monday evening.
“In the wake of the Madhya Pradesh High Court staying his (Lodhi’s) conviction and sentence, which was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court, the concerned BJP MLA Prahlad Lodhi’s membership of the House stands restored. On November 2, in pursuance with a 2013 Supreme Court order, I had ordered the disqualification of Lodhi as MLA as well as declared his assembly constituency vacant, following his conviction and two years jail term in a 2014 case by a Special Court in Bhopal, but Vidhan Sabha membership has been given back to him now. He’s welcome to attend the upcoming session of the Vidhan Sabha from December 17,” announced MP State Assembly Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati after the meeting with the LoP.
The Speaker also responded to senior BJP leaders continued accusation of him having acted hastily in the matter earlier. “The Special Court in Bhopal had convicted the BJP MLA in the criminal case and awarded him two years in jail on October 30, but I ordered his disqualification and declared his constituency Pawai vacant three days later on November 2. Similarly, I’ve ordered restoration of his House membership three days after the apex court order. All those accusing me of acting hastily in the matter should have properly checked the facts before making adverse comments on TV channels about the constitutional post I’m serving,” he added.
On October 30, the BJP MLA from Pawai seat of Panna district Prahlad Lodhi was convicted by a Special Court in Bhopal in a 2014 case of assault on a government team in Panna district and awarded two years in jail. In line with a 2013 Supreme Court order paving the passage for automatic disqualification of a lawmaker in the event of being sentenced to two years or more imprisonment, the Assembly Speaker had on November 2 evening disqualified him as House member as also declared his assembly seat vacant.
Five days later on November 7, a single judge MP High Court bench in Jabalpur suspended Lodhi’s conviction and sentence till January 7, 2019. The HC order was challenged by the Congress government in the SC through a Special Leave Petition (SLP) later, but the apex court’s double judge bench while upholding the HC order, dismissed the SLP on December 6.
With restoration of the disqualified BJP MLA’s membership, the MP Vidhan Sabha is again 230-members strong, where the ruling Congress has 115 members (just one short of simple majority on its own) besides having the support of four independents, two BSP MLAs and the lone SP MLA. The opposition BJP now again has 108 members.