Rajasthan crisis: HC verdict in Gehlot vs Pilot case on Friday, Speaker barred from acting against MLAs till judgment pronounced

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Updated: Jul 21, 2020 3:59 PM

The Sachin Pilot camp had moved the High Court contesting Speaker's disqualification notices to them for defying the party whip.

rajasthan plitical crisis Rajasthan HC to deliver verdict on dissident Congress MLAs’ petition on Friday. (File)

The Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday reserved its judgement on a plea filed by former deputy CM Sachin Pilot and 18 dissident Congress MLAs. The verdict will be delivered on Friday. The High Court has also requested Speaker CP Joshi to defer action on disqualification notices to Pilot and 18 others till Friday. The Speaker was likely to take a final call by evening today on disqualification of the rebel MLAs.

The Sachin Pilot camp had moved the High Court contesting Speaker’s disqualification notices to them for defying the party whip. The MLAs submitted that they didn’t do anything against the party and that their freedom was being suppressed. Speaker CP Joshi had served notices to them after Congress sought action against the rebel leaders for “anti-party activities”. The MLAs had not turned up for the Legislature Party meeting twice in the past week.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday held the third meeting with Congress MLAs at a resort in Jaipur, where he is guarding his flock against what he alleges is a conspiracy against his government by Pilot and BJP.

During the hearing today, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi who was representing the rebel MLAs in the High Court, argued that there is nothing to show the Speaker ‘applied his mind’ while serving the disqualification notices to the rebels. He said CP Joshi had shown a ‘tearing hurry’ and had given no reasons while serving notices to disqualify Sachin Pilot and others.

“In the middle of the pandemic, only three days’ time was given to the MLAs to respond to the notice. The reading of these facts leaves no manner of doubt that the decision to suspend MLAs is a foregone conclusion,” he said.

Senior Congress leader and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Speaker, said the rebels don’t have grounds to question the Speaker until the Speaker gives a decision.

“The Speaker and the assembly are not in the judicial purview of the court for now,” he said.

While the Ashok Gehlot camp is staying at a resort near Jaipur, Sachin Pilot along with his supporters are staying in two resorts near Delhi for over a week.

If Pilot and others are disqualified, it will bring down the majority mark in the Legislative Assembly and Ashok Gehlot government will survive. While Sachin Pilot has 19 MLAs including himself, Ashok Gehlot claims the support of 103 MLAs which includes many from smaller parties and independents. The BJP has 72 members in the 200-member House.

The crisis began last week after Sachin Pilot broke ranks with his party after he was served a notice by the SOG of the state police. He was asked by the SOG to record his statement in connection with a probe into an alleged bid to topple the Congress government headed by Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan. Pilot was later sacked as deputy CM and also as the president of the Congress’ Rajasthan unit.

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