New Delhi: A division bench of Rajasthan High Court as well as the state Assembly Speaker will hear the matter of Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident leaders on Friday (July 17). The High Court will hear the case at 1 pm, while the Speaker is scheduled to hear the matter at 5 pm.
Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident leaders on Thursday moved the high court, challenging the Rajasthan Speaker’s notices served to them after the Congress complained to the Speaker that the MLAs had defied a party whip to attend two Legislature Party meetings, on Monday and Tuesday.
The matter is scheduled to be heard in the High Court at 1 pm on Friday, which is also the “deadline” that the Speaker’s office gave the MLAs to file their replies to the notices.
According to reports, their petition first came up before the court of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma at about 3 pm, but their advocate Harish Salve sought time to file a fresh plea. At about 5 pm, the dissident camp submitted an amended petition and the court referred it Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty for the appointment of a two-judge bench.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is also a Congress leader, represents the Speaker’s office. Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who have represented the BJP-led government at the Centre in the past, are the lawyers for the Pilot’s camp.
Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi, who had written to the Speaker seeking the MLAs’ disqualification, also approached the court, asking to be heard before it passes any order
Earlier on Tuesday, the assembly secretariat sent notices to the 19 MLAs allowing them to give their replies till Friday. The Pilot camp, however, argues that a party whip applies only when the assembly is in session.
The Congress, however, sought action against Sachin Pilot and the other dissidents under paragraph 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The provision disqualifies MLAs if they “voluntarily” give up the membership of the party which they represent in the House.
Among those sent notices are Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, who were sacked along with Sachin Pilot from the state cabinet after their rebellion against Ashok Gehlot. Others include Deepender Singh Shekhawat, Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Harish Chandra Meena.
If these dissidents are disqualified, the current strength of the state assembly will reduce to 181, slashing the half-way mark to 91. This will make it easier for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to retain majority support in the 200-member assembly, where the Congress has 107 MLAs while the BJP has 72 legislators.