Raj HC to hear an amended petition filed by Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident leaders today
SACHIN Pilot and 18 other dissident leaders on Thursday moved the High Court, challenging the notices from the Rajasthan Speaker over a Congress move to disqualify them from the State Assembly. The matter came up first before the court of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma at about 3 pm, but the dissidents’ advocate Harish Salve sought time to file a fresh petition. At about 5 pm, an amended petition was submitted. The court referred it to a two-judge division bench.
A division bench of the Rajasthan High Court will hear on Friday afternoon an amended petition filed by Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident leaders, challenging the notices from the Speaker over a Congress move to disqualify them from the State Assembly. A division bench was earlier expected to hear the petition at 7.30 pm but the matter was put off till 1 pm Friday. The postponement is a matter of concern for the dissident camp led by Pilot.
The notices say Speaker C P Joshi will take up the complaint filed against them by the Congress chief whip at 1 pm on Friday, the time set by the High Court for hearing their petition. Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi, who had written to the Speaker seeking the MLAs’ disqualification, also approached the court, asking to be heard before it passes any order. The 19 MLAs were sent notices from the Speaker’s office on Tuesday and allowed up to Friday to give their replies. The notices said Speaker CP Joshi will take up the matter at 1 pm on Friday. The notices followed after the ruling party complained to the Speaker that the MLAs had defied a party whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings. The Pilot camp, however, argues that a party whip applies only when the Assembly is in session.
In its complaint to the Speaker, the Congress sought action against Pilot and the other dissidents under paragraph 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The provision disqualifies MLAs if they “voluntarily” give up the membership of the party which they represent in the House. The Congress said in the letter to the Speaker that the Supreme Court has “unequivocally held” in the past that the provision comes into effect when the conduct of an MLA leads to this inference. In court initially, advocate Harish Salve argued that the MLAs wanted to challenge the constitutional validity of the notices and needed some time to file it afresh. Among those sent notices are Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, who were sacked along with Pilot from the State Cabinet after their rebellion against Ashok Gehlot. Others include Deepender Singh Shekhawat, Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Harish Chandra Meena, who had also given statements to the media challenging the Gehlot Government.