A flurry of legal activity had happened by this (July 22) afternoon, all involving the Congress party in Rajasthan.
Following the Rajasthan High Court’s reserving of its order yesterday, post the three-day hearing of the case on the disqualification notice to 19 MLAs of the Rajasthan Assembly by its Speaker CP Joshi, former Deputy Chief Minister of the state Sachin Pilot sent a legal notice to Congress leader and MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga. Giriraj had claimed that he was offered money by Pilot to join the BJP. Money to the tune of Rs 35 crore was talked about.
Then, this morning, as was declared by Speaker Joshi, he filed an SLP in the Supreme Court against the Rajasthan HC’s order restraining him from taking action against the Pilot-headed 19 dissident MLAs. This appeal was filed on the Speaker’s behalf by AOR Sunil Fernandes. The Speaker has maintained that he has full right in sending a disqualification notice.
Meanwhile, Pilot has filed for a caveat in the same court, so that nothing is done by the Speaker’s party without notice.
The Speaker’s application was pushed by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal. Sibal, who was appearing in another case, drew the CJI’s notice to the Speaker’s appeal against the HC, saying this needed urgent attention. The court told Sibal to ring up the concerned registrar who would bring it to court’s notice.
That was when Sibal tried to talk about how the high court was wrong in its order. The court seemed unimpressed and said: “Don’t argue the case right now.”
The Rajasthan High Court had held three days of hearing and has reserved its verdict, to be given on Friday. The Speaker, through his lawyer in the high court had, however, already expressed his “reluctance” to wait that long. When the court ordered that the Speaker cannot take action against the dissidents till Friday, the speaker decided to go to the top court.
The Speaker’s contention is that this “delay and intervention” by the high court could lead to a Constitutional crisis. Joshi had told the media: “It is well-defined by the Supreme Court that only the Speaker can decide on anti-defection. The Speaker has full authority to send notice. It can be judicially reviewed only later, after the Speaker’s decision.”
The Rajasthan High Court’s verdict on the pleas by sacked state Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and his 18 associates in dissent is due for Friday. Yesterday (July 21) the high court bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta had ordered the Speaker to not take any action against the dissidents till the verdict was out. However, the Speaker, C P Joshi, who had said in court (through his counsel) that he was loathe to wait longer, has now said that he will move the Supreme Court against this ‘order’.
As things get murkier in Rajasthan politics, the speaker has been reported as saying that he had twice before deferred his deadline for action on the disqualification notices with the court proceedings continuing for too long. The Speaker has agreed to postpone any action against the dissidents till 5.30 pm on Friday as asked by the court, but this directive of the court has asked him.
Last week the Speaker had issued disqualification notices to these 19 MLAs, with the party (Congress) complaining that they were trying to topple the government of the state.
At a press conference, Joshi announced his decision to move the top court, indicating a constitutional crisis brewing.
Read the SLP here;SLP-1-36-Rajasthan_1-
-India Legal Bureau