Rajasthan HC to decide fate of Pilot, 18 other MLAs today


Rajasthan High Court will on Friday hear a petition filed by former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and 18 Congress rebel MLAs against the notice issued by Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi to disqualify them as MLAs. The High Court will hear the case at 1 pm, while the Assembly Speaker has assured the court that no action will be taken against the 19 MLAs till 5 pm.

 In course of the hearing on Thursday, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioners, sought time to amend the petition, after which the single judge bench referred the case to a two-judge bench for hearing. Salve argued that MLAs wanted to challenge the constitutional validity of the notices and needed some time to file fresh petitions.

The Rajasthan High Court has granted time to Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs to file an amended petition against the disqualification notices issued to them by the Rajasthan state Assembly Speaker.

The petition stated: “None of the petitioners herein have either by express conduct or implied conduct, indicated to the members of their constituencies and/or the public at large of their intention to leave or voluntary give up the membership of Indian National Congress.” The petition junked the allegations as baseless and said that petitioners had no intention to voluntarily give up membership of the Congress Party.

Petitioners claim that mere expression of disagreement with certain policies or decisions taken by some members of the party can›t be held tantamount to acting against interests of the party or the continuation of the state government.

The petition also highlights that even if a person is expelled from a political party, he/she continues to be a member of the said political party for all practical purposes under Explanation (a) to Para (2) of the Tenth Schedule.

The plea seeks to quash notices on the ground that they were issued without jurisdiction, with an abuse of powers under Tenth Schedule to «stifle the freedom of speech» of petitioners and to impose the majoritarian views of the party on them.

 The ruling Congress dispensation sought disqualification of MLAs from assembly for “anti-party activities” under the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, while they were given time to respond to the Speaker’s notice by Friday.