Rajasthan High Court orders status quo, no action for now on disqualification notices against Sachin Pilot and 18 dissident Congress MLAs.
The Rajasthan High Court on Friday ordered that status quo be maintained on Speaker CP Joshi’s disqualification notices to Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebel Congress MLAs. A bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta’s order came on a plea filed by the Sachin Pilot camp contesting the disqualification notices served to them by Speaker last week after they skipped the Congress legislature party meeting twice.
The HC’s order means that the Sachin Pilot camp does not need to reply to the Speaker’s notice to them and the Speaker caanot initiate any action against the dissident MLAs till the matter is settled in court. While the High Court has given no fresh date for hearing the matter for now, a separate plea by the Speaker challenging the High Court’s earlier directive will come up before the Supreme Court on Monday, July 27.
The High Court said that while the prayer in the plea by Sachin Pilot camp to allow them to continue as MLAs was outside its purview, it will deal on the question whether the Speaker was right to send a disqualification notice to the rebel MLAs and the constitutional validity of Tenth Schedule for which the Centre has been made party. A similar question is also before the Supreme Court.
The High Court also allowed the application moved by Pilot and others seeking impleadment of the Union of India as a party to the proceedings in the disqualification matter. The application for impleadment was moved by them on Thursday on the grounds that the constitutional amendment is under challenge and, therefore, the Union of India is a necessary party now.
“The Rajasthan High Court has made Centre a party in the case against Congress, in the petition filed by Sachin Pilot and MLAs against disqualification notice. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) will represent Centre in the court,” Prateek Kasliwal, lawyer of Speaker CP Joshi, told reporters in Jaipur.
The High Court’s order came a day after the Supreme Court refused to pass an interim order on Speaker CP Joshi’s plea seeking a stay on the HC’s Tuesday directive to defer his action on disqualification notices till Friday.
The dissident Congress MLAs led by Pilot have challenged their disqualification notices through the writ petition which was taken up by the HC last week. After hearing arguments, the court had said it will pass an appropriate order on Friday.
The disqualification notices to 19 MLAs were served after the Congress complained to the Speaker that the MLAs had defied a whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings on Monday and Tuesday last week.
In its petition, the Pilot camp argued that a party whip applies only when the assembly is in session.
The crisis came to fore last week after Sachin Pilot’s revolt against CM Ashok Gehlot. Pilot was sacked as deputy CM and the president of the Congress’ Rajasthan unit.
While Gehlot and MLAs loyal to him are staying at a resort on the outskirts of Jaipur, Pilot along with his supports are staying at a resort on Jaipur-Gurugram highway for nearly two weeks.