Kollam: A court in Kerala has directed Congress president Sonia Gandhi to appear in person or through a lawyer, before it on August 3 in a plea filed by a party member challenging his suspension from the national party.
The Munsiff Court in Kollam district on July 20 issued the urgent notice for appearance to the Congress chief as well as Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K Sudhakaran and District Congress Committee chief P Rajendra Prasad, according to a lawyer associated with the case.
The direction came on an application filed in a suit by Congress member Pridhwyraj P, who was suspended from the party in 2019, seeking directions to quash the suspension order on the ground that it was in violation of the party's rules and by-laws.
The court on July 20 also issued summons to Sonia Gandhi, Sudhakaran and Prasad to appear before it on August 30 in the main suit.
In his interim application, filed through advocate Boris Paul, Pridhwyraj has said that no KPCC member be selected from the Kundra Block Congress Committee of Kollam district, where he was a general secretary before his suspension, till his suit is finally decreed.
In his suit, also filed through advocate Paul, he has claimed that he has not been served with any order of suspension till date.
"The plaintiff was not issued with any notice and he was not called by anyone to explain any charges. Even after repeated requests, the plaintiff (Pridhwyraj) was not served with the alleged order of suspension, which is nothing but an unlawful act.
"It is bonafide believed that the non-delivery of order of suspension was to avoid the plaintiff from appealing before the appropriate authority and also to prevent him from initiating legal action," he has said in the suit.
Pridhwyraj has also claimed that he came to know about his suspension by the Kollam DCC president only through news reports.
He has contended that a DCC president is not at all empowered to place a member under suspension under any provisions of the Constitution of Indian National Congress and Rules.
He has also claimed that he had sent a legal notice, through his lawyer, to all three defendants earlier this year to revoke his allegedly illegal suspension, but has not received any response till date.
The lack of response prompted him to move the court.
"The existence of the illegal order of suspension said to have been issued by the 3rd Defendant (DCC president) is causing hindrance to the plaintiff in renewing his membership and also from participating in the programmes organized by the Indian National Congress and he is also prevented from being selected to various positions in the party such as KPCC member etc.
"This is an infringement of his right to function as a member of the Indian National Congress in accordance with its Constitution and Rules," he said in his suit.
He has sought a declaration that the order of suspension was "illegal and in violation of the Constitution and Rules of Indian National Congress and therefore, void ab initio and not binding on the plaintiff".
He has also prayed for a direction to the defendants (Sonia Gandhi and others) to renew his membership in the Indian National Congress.
(With inputs from PTI)