STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Heading towards constitutional crisis: Rajasthan Speaker moves SC over HC 'direction' to defer action against 19 rebel Congress MLAs

The Speaker's counsel had twice before agreed to the court's 'request' to extend the deadline for receiving replies from the MLAs to the show cause notices.

Published: 22nd July 2020 11:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd July 2020 12:59 PM   |  A+A-

Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot

Rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot (File Photo | PTI)

By Online Desk

JAIPUR: Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the high court directive to defer till July 24 the disqualification proceedings against 19 dissident Congress MLAs, including sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.

The high court had said on Tuesday that it would deliver its order on July 24 on a petition filed by Pilot and 18 other MLAs, challenging the disqualification notices sent to them.

It asked the Speaker to defer the disqualification proceedings till then.

The Speaker, in his plea filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, has said that the disqualification process is part of the Assembly proceedings and hence, the high court could not have interfered by asking him to defer it till Friday.

Later, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde in another matter, raised the issue of having a mechanism in the top court for urgent mentioning and listing of petitions like the one filed by the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker.

The CJI told Sibal to raise the issue of urgent listing before the apex court registry.

The Speaker's counsel had twice before agreed to the high court's 'request' to extend the deadline for receiving replies from the MLAs to the show cause notices.

Pilot and 18 dissident Congress MLAs have challenged their disqualification notices in the high court.

The notices to MLAs were served after the party complained to the Speaker that the legislators had allegedly defied a whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings, on Monday and Tuesday last week.

The Pilot camp, however, has argued that a party whip applies only when the Assembly is in session.

In its complaint to the Legislative Assembly Speaker, the Congress had sought action against Pilot and the other dissidents under paragraph 2(1)(a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

Pilot was sacked as deputy chief minister and the president of the state unit of the party after he rebelled against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

The problem appears to have arisen after the court recorded this in writing, adding that it has 'directed accordingly'.

"I have asked my lawyer to file an SLP in the Supreme Court as to why we are moving towards a constitutional crisis," the Speaker said at a press conference.

Joshi said circumventing the defined roles of an institution is a threat to parliamentary democracy.

"So, before we move towards a constitutional crisis, I thought it is appropriate that a petition be filed in the Supreme Court," he added.

"I hope that the court will take cognisance of the petition despite the coronavirus crisis, so that it can be ensured that an authority can discharge its role under the constitutional system," he said.

Joshi said only show-cause notices were issued to the MLAs and no decision had been taken.

On Tuesday, the court of Rajasthan High court Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta made a similar request when the proceedings did not get over by the end of the day and were put off till Friday.

The problem appears to have arisen after the court recorded this in writing, adding that it has 'directed accordingly'.

The court on Tuesday heard the closing arguments of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for the petitioners, followed by a reply by senior advocate Devadatt Kamath, who appeared for Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi.

Kamath argued that by refusing to attend Congress Legislature party meeting the MLAS invited disqualification under Para 2(1)(a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

The provision disqualifies MLAs if they 'voluntarily give up' the membership of the party which they represent in the House.

ALSO READ | Rajasthan crisis: After Gehlot's outburst, is it the end of road for Pilot in Congress?

He contended that the 10th Schedule applies to the conduct outside the House.

He referred to parliamentary committee reports on the 10th Schedule, which observed that those who break party discipline should be punished.

Arguments were heard and completed on Tuesday.

All the parties have been asked to file their written arguments by Friday.

Earlier, appearing for the Speaker, Abhishek Singhvi argued that proceedings under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution is a proceeding of the Assembly and thus cannot be called into question before any court of law, that includes the high court.

The court also allowed the application of three other parties to be included as respondents and heard them on Tuesday.

"It will become clear on July 24 whether the court pronounces the final order or interim order," the counsel for the Speaker said.

Earlier, the counsels had told reporters that the order has been reserved.

On Tuesday evening, Speaker C P Joshi reached the Assembly to meet the counsels and decided to defer the decision on the disqualification notices till Friday evening.

Pilot and the 18 dissident Congress MLAs have challenged their disqualification notices in the high court through a writ petition.

The petition was taken up by the division bench on Friday and arguments were held.

The high court had on Friday given a four-day reprieve to Sachin Pilot and other Congress dissidents from any action by Rajasthan Speaker on the disqualification notices served on them by extending the hearing into their petition.

The hearing continued on Monday but it remained inconclusive and resumed on Tuesday.

The Speaker's office had issued notices to the Pilot and the other MLAs on July 14 on the basis of a complaint from their party that they had skipped two meetings of the Congress Legislature Party, defying a whip.

ALSO READ | Rajasthan crisis: Sachin Pilot sends legal notice to Congress MLA over horse-trading charge

The notices gave the MLAs three days to submit their reply on why they should not be disqualified from the assembly.

But the dissident leaders moved the Rajasthan High Court on July 16, challenging the notices.

They also argued that a party whip applies only when the assembly is in session.

In its complaint to the Legislative Assembly Speaker, the Congress had sought action against Pilot and the other dissidents under paragraph 2(1)(a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

Pilot was sacked as deputy chief minister and the president of the state unit of the party after he rebelled against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

(With PTI Inputs)

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp