Rajasthan Speaker Challenges In Top Court An Order That Helped Team Pilot

On July 24, the High Court had put a freeze on the disqualification petitions against 19 rebel MLAs, which included Mr Pilot.

Rajasthan Speaker Challenges In Top Court An Order That Helped Team Pilot

Sachin Pilot has been sacked as Rajasthan deputy chief minister and state Congress chief

Jaipur:

Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi has reversed his decision of not going to court over the issue of disqualification of Congress rebel Sachin Pilot. Just two days after withdrawing the petition challenging the Rajasthan High Court's interim order of maintaining a status quo -- which he claimed is helping Mr Pilot -- Mr Joshi was back in the top court again. Late this evening, he filed another petition on the same lines, claiming that the high court did not give any reason for stopping the disqualification, that it was questioning an earlier order of the Supreme Court and it was interfering with issues under the Speaker's control.

Sources told NDTV that Speaker will not be pressing for immediate hearing and the case is likely to come up for hearing next week. Senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal will represent the Speaker in court.

On July 24, the High Court had put a temporary freeze on the disqualification petitions against 19 rebel MLAs, which included Mr Pilot. The court said status quo should be maintained till the Supreme Court took a call on the broader issue of the Speaker's powers.

This time, the Speaker has asked the top court to rein-in the "indiscipline" of the High Court, which he said, was violating the Supreme Court's Kihoto Hollohan judgment.

The 1992 judgment had settled a constitutional challenge to the Tenth Schedule, also known as the anti-Defection law. Adopted in 1985, the law gives the Speaker sweeping discretionary powers, which was upheld by the top court.

The High Court acted in "gross judicial indiscipline and judicial impropriety" in seeking to reopen settled issues decided by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, the petition said. The High Court, it added, cannot sit in judgment over a Supreme Court verdict.

It is the Speaker's job to decide whether the conduct of MLAs amounts to democratic dissent or floor crossing or defection and "it is inadvisable for a High Court to embark on a fact-finding expedition," the petition also said.

Mr Pilot and the 18 MLAs supporting him have argued in High Court that their's was an intra-party dissent and since they are still a part of the Congress and the assembly is not in session, disqualification proceedings cannot be brought against them.  

The notices were sent to the MLAs after they skipped two consecutive meetings of the Congress legislature party.

The Congress has been divided over the question of taking a legal route to solve the Rajasthan crisis. But on Monday, the petition in Supreme Court was withdrawn as a way of outmaneuvering Governor Kalraj Mishra who cited the court proceedings as one of the reasons for his refusal to convene an assembly session.

But today, with the Governor stalling Chief Minister  Ashok Gehlot's proposal to start assembly on July 31 for a third time, insisting on a three-week window for the MLAs, the Congress went back to court.

Mr Gehlot maintains that some MLAs supporting him are being held hostage by the rebels and once the rebels are forced to come to Jaipur for the assembly session, his numbers will rise further. The claim has been denied by the Team Pilot.