Home / News / India /  Rajasthan high court asks Speaker to defer action on notices till Friday

NEW DELHI : The Rajasthan high court on Tuesday said it will rule on Friday on a legal challenge by Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress rebel members of legislative assembly (MLAs) against their disqualification by Assembly Speaker CP Joshi. In the meantime, the court also ordered Joshi not to take any action against the rebel legislators.

The court order gives a little more time to both sides, particularly Pilot’s faction to evade action, and to prepare for the next course of action. Pilot was removed as deputy chief minister (CM) and Congress’ state unit chief over his rebellion against the government.

The legal developments came on a day when the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) in Rajasthan held a meeting—the third since last week and all skipped by Pilot and his supporters.

According to people aware of the development, the meeting took place in a resort where MLAs supporting the ruling faction led by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot have been put up.

Gehlot is understood to have told them that their position is strong and that no one wants a mid-term election.

The Rajasthan high court bench comprising chief justice Indrajit Mahanty and justice Prashant Gupta will deliver its verdict on 24 July. It directed Joshi not to take any action against the rebel MLAs till Friday.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing on behalf of the 19 petitioners, said he challenges the Speaker’s show-cause notice issued to Pilot and his group as it “reeks of mala fide". He said Joshi acted with “undue haste".

While those served with the disqualification notices can submit their reply “within seven days or such extended periods as may be", Joshi gave only gave three days to Pilot and his supporters, which showed “mala fide" on the part of the Speaker. “Mind you, we are in the middle of covid-9 and only three days time was given for reply," said Rohtagi.

Senior advocate Devadatt Kamat appearing for Congress whip Mahesh Joshi, who has been impleaded as additional respondent, said the rules of none of the legislative assemblies state that a reason has to be recorded before issuing a show-cause notice.

He argued that his rival counsel have not denied that the action of the 19 MLAs amount to voluntarily giving up party membership.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Joshi, had argued on Monday that the courts have no jurisdiction over the disqualification of any assembly member, and no powers of judicial review in such matters.

Joshi had been expected to take up the disqualification notice at 5pm last Friday. But minutes before he could do so, the high court granted interim relief to the 19 MLAs from having to reply to the notice and from any disciplinary action.

This has now been extended till 24 July.

The majority mark in the 200-member assembly is 101. Gehlot has accused his former deputy of conspiring with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to bring down his government. The BJP, with just 72 MLAs, has been gingerly watching the developments.

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