Sachin Pilot and other rebel MLAs cannot go to court against disqualification notices prematurely, before any decision by the Speaker, Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued in the Rajasthan High Court today. Mr Singhvi, representing Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi, also challenged the rebels' argument that skipping two meetings did not mean they were quitting the party.
Team Pilot, which has 19 members, has argued in its petition before the High Court that disqualification notices cannot be served by the Rajasthan Speaker when the assembly is not in session. The rebels have also contested a constitutional rule that disqualifies MLAs if they "voluntarily" give up the membership of the party that they represent.
Mr Singhvi said the court has no jurisdiction in the case just yet; the Speaker has to decide first.
"The Speaker may or may not pass a correct decision. But there cannot be any interference at the pre-order stage pre-empting that Speaker will take a wrong decision," Mr Singhvi said.
He termed the rebels' case "much worse" as there were no new grounds of challenge. "The petitioners, in an 'over-clever' way, have raised the same grounds of challenge that were considered and rejected by the Supreme Court," he argued.
To the rebels saying they cannot be construed to have abandoned the party for making statements and not attending meetings, Mr Singhvi said the "voluntary giving up of party membership" needed to be read widely.
"There is no need for formal resignation; giving up of membership can be inferred from conduct. There is no straight-jacket approach for Speaker to decide (under the constitution). There is no fixed formula. So how to take a decision is within the Speaker's domain," he said.
Not being present at a legislature party meeting can be construed as giving up membership of the party, but the Speaker has to decide, Mr Singhvi argued.
The senior lawyer, one of the Congress's sharpest legal brains, said, referring to team Pilot, "Unprincipled defection is a political sin and against constitutional morality."