Raj political drama: Cong chief whip moves SC

New Delhi/ Jaipur, Jul 31 (IANS) | Publish Date: 7/31/2020 12:31:48 PM IST

After the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker moved the Supreme Court against the state high court’s July 24 order, Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi has also moved the apex court, challenging the order staying proceedings on his petitions seeking disqualification of 19 rebel MLAs, including dropped Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.

Joshi contended that it is beyond any pale of doubt that the High Court, by entertaining the plea of the rebel MLAs, at the stage when the Speaker is yet to decide the disqualification petition under Para 6 of the Tenth Schedule, has exceeded its jurisdiction and therefore the impugned interim order deserves to be set aside.

The plea contended that the High Court directing status quo on disqualification proceedings is ex-facie unconstitutional, illegal and in the teeth of the law laid down by the top court in Kihoto Hollohan matter. Joshi insisted the notice issued on July 14 by the Speaker calling for comments of the rebel MLAs on the disqualification petitions filed against them under Para 2(1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule, was not adverse.

As an interim relief, Joshi has urged the apex court to grant stay on the July 24 order of the High Court.

The plea contended that the Speaker has vast jurisdiction to decide whether a person stands disqualified under the Tenth Schedule and he may arrive at such a conclusion by taking the aid of contemporaneous evidence. Joshi insisted that to interdict the Speaker at this stage effaces the very purpose and intent of the Tenth Schedule.

Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi, in his plea, had urged the apex court “to ensure that the authorities under the Constitution, including the judiciary, exercise its jurisdiction within the boundaries and function within their respective ‘Lakshman Rekhas’ envisaged by the Constitution itself.”

His plea said: “It is submitted that the notices dated July 14 impugned in the writ petition merely called upon the 19 delinquent MLAs to furnish their written comments/replies to the allegations levelled against them in the disqualification petitions.”

“It is submitted that the impugned order interdicts the petitioner/Speaker from acting under the Tenth Schedule at the stage of notice itself and restrains him from even proceeding to call for replies/comments from the respondents,” he added.

The Speaker has requested the apex court to rein in the “indiscipline”, contending that the High Court is violating the apex court verdict in Kihito Hollohan matter. “The impugned order of the High Court is a direct interference in the ‘proceedings of the House’ under Para 6(2) of the Tenth Schedule which is prohibited, under Article 212 of the Constitution,” said the plea.

Over 50 Gehlot camp MLAs moved to Jaisalmer 

Over 50 Congress MLAs in the Ashok Gehlot fold, who were camping at a hotel on the Jaipur-Delhi Highway amid the ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan, were on Friday shifted to Jaisalmer in three chartered flights.  Transport Minister Pratap Singh said in Jaipur the MLAs are being shifted to Jaisalmer so that they remain united.

He said the chief minister’s strategy is that not a single MLA is poached. 

The three chartered flights carrying the MLAs took off from here and landed at Jaisalmer, a distance of more than 550 km from Jaipur by road. The MLAs were taken to hotel Suryagarh in bus and other vehicles amid tight security. 

“We are going to Jaisalmer for a change,” Congress MLA Prashant Bairwa said at the Jaipur airport. 

The remaining MLAs in the Gehlot camp are also being shifted to Jaisalmer.

The decision to move the MLAs came a day after Gehlot indicated he will seek a confidence vote when the assembly convenes on August 14 and claimed the money offered to the MLAs to switch sides had increased sharply ahead of the session.  

The chief minister said the rebels who have not accepted money should return to the party. 

The MLAs have been staying at the Jaipur hotel since July 13 after Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress legislators rebelled against the government, triggering a political crisis. 

Gehlot questions BJP’s criticism over defection 

Accusing the BJP of adopting double standards over the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday reminded it about the induction of four TDP Rajya Sabha MPs into the saffron party last year.

   Six BSP MLAs defected to the Congress in September last year which was initially challenged by BJP MLA Madan Dilawar before the assembly speaker in March this year and now he and the BSP have filed separate writ petitions in the Rajasthan High Court against the merger.

 “The BJP got four MPs of TDP merged with it overnight in Rajya Sabha. That merger is right and the merger of six MLAs with the Congress in Rajasthan is wrong,” Gehlot tweeted in Hindi.  He asked what had happened to the BJP’s ‘Chaal-Charitra-Chehra’ (conduct and character) at that time?  In Andhra Pradesh, four of the six Telugu Desam Party members of Rajya Sabha had joined the BJP last year.

 “The merger can take place with 2/3 majority. Here, all the six MLAs had merged so therefore (BSP supremo) Mayawati’s complaint is not justified because it was not about two MLAs, it was about all the MLAs,” Gehlot had said on Thursday.

 “This is the game of BJP which the entire country is watching. Some of our colleagues are involved in this,” he had said.

 The high court has issued notices to the speaker, secretary of the assembly and the six MLAs.

 The merger of six MLAs -- Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha to Congress in September 2019 -- was a boost to the Ashok Gehlot-led government as the tally of the Congress increased to 107 in the house of 200. 


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