Rajasthan HC will pronounce its order on Friday

sachin-21JAIPUR : Sachin Pilot and his team of rebels will find out on Friday whether they can be disqualified as Congress MLAs, when the Rajasthan High Court announces its decision on their challenge to notices served for “anti-party activities”. Until then, the Rajasthan Speaker cannot take any action against them, said the High Court.
Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi on Tuesday held a marathon meeting at Vidhan Sabha discussing High Court’s order with the state Assembly Secretary.
The HC has fixed July 24 to deliver its order on a petition by filed by sacked deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot and 18 dissident Congress MLAs against the Speaker’s disqualification notice.
Speaker Joshi today heard the petition of Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi in the state assembly. The petition related to the disqualification of 19 rebel Congress MLAs. Notably, Counsel for both the parties submitted their contentions before the Speaker.
Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Pilot camp, today told the High Court that there is nothing on record to show the Rajasthan Speaker “applied his mind” while serving disqualification notices to Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress rebel MLAs.
Rohatgi further argued that the rebels were granted less time for reply than as stated in rules and that there are no reasons recorded for issuing the notice. On Monday, the bench had observed that a whip can be issued only for an Assembly session but not with respect to a party meeting.

Meanwhile, breaking his silence on the Rajasthan crisis, Rahul Gandhi listed the alleged “attempt to topple” the government in the state as among the Centre’s “achievements” in the COVID-19 era. The Gandhis, have so far, refrained from making any public comment on the crisis triggered by Pilot’s revolt.
Earlier in the day, the Rajasthan High Court requested the Assembly Speaker to defer action on disqualification notices till Friday as it will pass appropriate orders on the writ petition filed by Sachin Pilot and 18 dissident legislators on that day, the speaker’s counsel said.
Arguments were heard and completed on Tuesday. All the parties have been asked to file their written arguments by Friday. “The court will now pass appropriate orders on July 24. The speaker was also requested to defer action on the notices till Friday,” the counsel for the Speaker said.

While team Pilot waits for the verdict, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot held meetings today that signaled that he is inclined to go for a test of strength in the state assembly. The Chief Minister also called a cabinet meeting at his home, the first since Sachin Pilot was removed as his Deputy over his revolt.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claims the support of 102 MLAs – one more than the majority mark in the 200-member Rajasthan assembly. A crucial role was played by two Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP) MLAs in fortifying his numbers.

Team Pilot has 19 members, and along with the BJP’s 72, can give the government a close fight if it wins the court case. With independents and smaller parties, the opposition tally is at 97, just five behind the government. If the rebels are allowed to vote as Congress members, Mr Gehlot could find himself in trouble.
If the court decides that team Pilot can be disqualified, it will bring down the majority mark in the assembly and the ruling Congress can win even more easily than before.
During the court hearings, top lawyers on both sides argued over whether dissent is “anti-party” and whether the Speaker’s action on dissenters violates freedom of speech.
Representing the rebel MLAs, Mr Mukul Rohatgi said Speaker CP Joshi had shown a “tearing hurry” and had given no reasons while serving notices to disqualify Sachin Pilot and others after they skipped two meetings. He said there was nothing to show the Speaker “applied his mind” while serving the disqualification notices.
Yesterday, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Speaker, said the rebels cannot approach the court before any action. “The Speaker and the assembly are not in the judicial purview of the court for now,” said Mr Singhvi.
Sachin Pilot broke ranks with his party after he was asked to answer questions in an investigation ordered by the Chief Minister into alleged bribing of Congress MLAs to switch loyalties and help bring down the government in which he was Deputy Chief Minister.
The Congress has repeatedly said the “doors are open” for Mr Pilot, who has in turn insisted that he is not going to the BJP. But Mr Gehlot’s attacks on his former deputy have become increasingly vitriolic.
Yesterday, Mr Gehlot said no one wanted to believe that “such an innocent face” could conspire against the party. He also used words like “nikamma” and “nakaara” (worthless) to described Mr Pilot.
(Bureau REport with Agency Inputs ).

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