Sachin Pilot moves High Court against Speaker’s disqualification notice

Sachin-Pilot-16NEW DELHI/ JAIPUR : Sachin Pilot has now moved Rajasthan High Court to challenge the issuance of disqualification notice by the assembly Speaker, as well as the validity of the whip issued by the Congress legislative party.

As per sources, the Pilot camp has also challenged the Speaker’s notice on the grounds that it is arbitrary. Moreover, the plea states that the assembly was not in session when the notice of disqualification was issued. Therefore, it cannot be enforced. Thus, the plea demands setting aside of the disqualification notices and claims that there is no basis to allege ‘anti-party activity.’
Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi has served notices to 19 Congress MLAs including Sachin Pilot asking them why they cannot be disqualified. The MLAs have time until July 17 to reply. The political man oeuvres around defection and disqualification are likely to follow, in certain aspects, the events of 2019 in Karnataka, and in April 2020 in Madhya Pradesh.

The notice has been served under the anti-defection law. The Congress in its complaint to the Speaker has accused the rebel MLAs of attempting to jump parties.
The Congress complaint, and the Speaker’s notice late on Tuesday (July 14) night came after Pilot and the lawmakers supporting him skipped the Congress Legislature Party meetings on July 13 and 14.The meetings concluded with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot establishing his majority, and with a recommendation to take action against the 19 MLAs.

Mukul Rohatgi and Harish Salve, both top government lawyers in BJP regimes, are representing them in court. Sachin Pilot now Petitioner No. 7 against the Congress – has reached a point of no return, said party sources, by going to court just a day after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spoke to him on the phone. The Congress has fielded one of its legal experts, Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Team Pilot has challenged a rule in the constitution that allows a Speaker to disqualify any member who has “voluntarily given up his membership”. The provision, they argue, was used by Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi to serve notice to the rebels asking them to explain by Friday “anti-party activities”, failing which they would be disqualified.
The Congress sent the notices via SMS, WhatsApp, email and post and even pasted documents on walls outside their homes across Rajasthan to make sure they get the message.
If the rebel MLAs are disqualified, the majority mark will drop, making it easier for Mr Pilot’s chief adversary, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, to win a floor test.
If the rebels can avoid being disqualified and are allowed to vote as Congress members, Mr Gehlot’s government could fall. He needs 101 MLAs to vote for him in the 200-member assembly and claims he has the support of 106, which has been contested by team Pilot.
The BJP has 73 MLAs and needs at least 30 to take power in Rajasthan. Congress sources fear Mr Pilot is working overtime to reach that target while publicly denying any move to join the BJP in order to avoid disqualification.
Two MLAs of regional party Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP), who had alleged in viral videos that they were in a “hostage-like situation” when the police snatched their car keys to stop them leaving Jaipur, have become crucial in the race for numbers. They denied reports that they had joined Mr Pilot’s camp and said they would “take a decision” after meeting Mr Gehlot tomorrow.
Mr Pilot yesterday proclaimed that rumors about him joining the saffron BJP were to malign him in the eyes of the Gandhis, which fueled speculation that he wanted to make nice with the Congress leadership.
Sources say Mr Pilot has not sought any appointment either with Congress president Sonia Gandhi or the other Gandhis, showing a singular lack of interest in any truce. Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reportedly reached out to him in the past few days.
Mr Pilot, say sources, has been cold to any compromise that does not involve him being named Chief Minister, a post he lost to Mr Gehlot after the Congress won the 2018 Rajasthan election.
The fight boiled over when on Friday, Mr Pilot was asked to answer questions on alleged attempts to buy Congress MLAs for a coup by the BJP. Mr Gehlot had ordered the investigation last month when he put up Congress MLAs at a hotel for 10 days allegedly to keep them away from inducements by the BJP.
Mr Gehlot, who has been on the offensive against his former deputy, was yesterday reportedly asked to dial down his attacks, which included a jibe that “good English and handsome looks is not everything.” The Chief Minister also doubled down on his allegations of horse-trading and accused Mr Pilot of deal-making.
(With Agency Inputs ).

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