NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the Rajasthan High Court to deliver its ruling on Friday on the plea filed by the rebel MLAs but the judgment will be subject to the outcome of the apex court order.
Speaker CP Joshi was told by the bench that he will not decide upon disqualification of the MLAs till the verdict comes.
During the hearing, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked the senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Joshi, on what grounds the disqualification has been sought.
In his reply, Sibal says the MLAs did not attend party meetings. They were indulging in various anti-party activities and gave interviews that they want a floor test.
They are presently in a hotel in Haryana, incommunicado.
Sibal read out the disqualification notices sent by the Speaker and said, till Joshi's decision, there can't be any interdiction.
The bench then asked Sibal if the party has expelled them.
"Why isn't the party expelling them if they are convinced about all this," asked the apex court.
Sibal replied on behalf of Joshi, "I am not the party, I am the Speaker."
“Voice of dissent cannot be suppressed because then democracy will shut,” the bench told Sibal, adding, “The MLAs have been elected by the people, can they not express their dissent?”
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi pointed out that Speaker CP Joshi had given two letters in the Rajasthan High Court agreeing for deferment of proceedings but he did not put those letters on record.
The court also asked Sibal if a whip can be issued for attending a party meeting.
Sibal denied that Joshi issued a whip for the meeting and said, "It was only a notice not a whip. It is about a lot more than not attending a meeting. It is about their anti-party activities."
The bench then said, “Let the matter be heard at length. Your questions require lengthy hearing.”
Sibal told the bench that time should not be given to the MLAs to do whatever they want as it will risk the existence of the Gehlot government.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, representating Sachin Pilot and the 18 other rebel MLAs, pointed out that Joshi had deferred the proceedings on his own twice in the past and stressed that issues of jurisdiction and maintainability have been argued before the High Court.
The court has slated the detailed hearing for Monday.
During the hearing, Joshi told the top court that the state high court has no jurisdiction to restrain him from conducting disqualification proceedings till July 24 against 19 dissident Congress MLAs, including sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.
Sibal referred to a famous top court verdict rendered in the 1992 Kihoto Hollohan case, in which it was held that courts can't intervene in disqualification proceedings undertaken by the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.
Joshi has challenged the Rajasthan High Court's July 21 order, which said the verdict on the petition filed by the 19 MLAs, challenging the disqualification notices, will be pronounced on July 24 and asked him to defer the disqualification proceedings till then.
(With PTI inputs)