Bhopal: HC stays Lodhi’s conviction, terms Speaker’s decision hasty

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday stayed conviction of disqualified BJP MLA Prahlad Lodhi till January 7 next year and granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 40,000. Soon after the reprieve, Lodhi claimed that Congress leaders had asked him to join the party and had even offered Rs 2 crore.

He alleged that he was implicated in the case after he declined the offer. Terming his disqualification from Assembly as a Congress conspiracy, Lodhi described the court order as ‘victory of truth’.

Earlier, while offering reprieve to the MLA, single judge bench of Justice Vishnu Prasad Singh Chouhan said that the stay would be revoked if Lodhi was found "indulging in any criminal activity during suspension of his conviction and sentence."

The court termed State Assembly Speaker’s decision to disqualify Lodhi as taken in a hurried manner.

On October 31, a special court had sentenced the Pawai MLA and 12 others to two years in jail for attacking tehsildar in August 2014. Following the order, Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati had disqualified Lodhi on November 2 and declared the seat as vacant. Lodhi moved the high court on November 4 on court’s order.

State Assembly officials said that further action would be taken after receiving a copy of high court’s order and arrival of Prajapati, who was currently out of the city. Sources said that the government was mulling over moving the Supreme Court against the high court order.

Chief electoral officer VL Kantharao said that he too has asked for a copy of court’s order. Stating that court order would be followed, he said that assembly secretariat and Election Commission would take action on the basis of court’s order.

Speaker’s decision aimed to benefit Cong: Chouhan

Former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan termed Speaker’s decision against Lodhi was aimed to benefit Congress. Terming Speaker’s post as a pious post of democracy, he said that no one should be allowed to lower its dignity. State BJP chief Rakesh Singh termed Speaker’s decision as politically motivated and immature and accused Congress of using Prajapati as a tool. “Speaker is the guardian of MLAs. However, Prajapati neither took Governor’s nod in Lodhi’s case nor gave the MLA time to move HC,” he said and added, “Lodhi’s membership would be restored. The Speaker should avoid taking decision in haste.”

Congress has no role: Saluja

Congress’ media convener Narendra Saluja said Lodhi’s membership was cancelled on court order. Congress or the state government had no role in it. “It is the state assembly which has to take decision,” he said.

Decision on SC’s ruling: Prajapati

Assembly speaker NP Prajapati said that decision to disqualify Lodhi was taken on SC ruling. He said that similar decision was taken by the then Speaker Ishwardas Rohani. Further action would be taken after copy of court order reaches assembly, he said adding that matter would be discussed with expert before arriving on any decision.

Govt mulling to move SC: Tankha

Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha said government is mulling moving SC against HC order. “It is Lodhi’s right to challenge court’s order against him in higher court and the High Court has given its ruling. But we too have the right to approach the SC. We are going to file an appeal in the case,” said the Congress MP while talking to media.

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