HC puts on hold Tahir Hussain's disqualification as MCD councillor

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday stayed the EDMC decision to disqualify suspended AAP leader Tahir Hussain, arrested in connection with a case related to north-east Delhi riots in February, as councillor of the municipal body.

Justice Najmi Waziri put on hold the East Delhi Municipal Corporation's August 26 decision on Hussain's plea challenging it.

The court also issued notice to the corporation, represented by its standing counsel Gaurang Kanth, and sought its stand on the petition by March 17, 2021.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid and advocates Rizwan and Anupam Srivastava, appearing for Hussain, told the court that the EDMC decision was 'arbitrary, illegal and against the principles of natural justice' and ought to be set aside.

The petition also challenged EDMC's letter dated August 20 proposing to 'vacate his seat' as councillor for not attending the House meetings held in the month of January, February, June and July.

The August 20 proposal was confirmed by the corporation on August 26, the petition said.

It has contended that Hussain was arrested on March 5 in connection with the riots and has been in custody ever since and as he received no prior notice of the meetings held thereafter, he could not move the court to seek permission for attending them.

The petition, moved by Hussain's wife on his behalf, has also contended that under the Delhi Municipal Corporations Act, 72 hours prior notice has to be given to all the councillors before every meeting. Kanth, appearing for the EDMC, said he argued before the court that Hussain was absent from the meetings of the corporation held in January, February, June, July and August 2020, while no meetings were conducted in March, April and May 2020 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said he also told the court that the word 'successive' used in section 33(2) Act, which provides for disqualification of a councillor for not attending meetings, does not mean 'consecutive'. Hussain's plea has contended that since no meetings were held in March, April and May, therefore, meetings cannot be said to have been held 'successively' for a period of three months.

Hussain was elected as councillor of EDMC in the 2017 Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections. PTI HMP SA