The Supreme Court today said the Rajasthan HC can pass order on rebel MLAs’ plea against disqualification notice. The Apex Court refused to stop a verdict on a petition by 19 rebel Congress MLAs challenging disqualification notices. The Court set aside speaker CP Joshi’s request for a stay on the proceedings.
The plea filed by Rajasthan speaker challenged the state high court order of July 21. Plea had asked the speaker to defer action on his notice to Pilot and other rebel MLAs till July 24. Joshi argued that the court’s intervention was premature as he is yet to decide on the issue of disqualification and has only issued notices.
CP Joshi had served notices to 19 rebel MLAs, including Sachin Pilot. This was as a resultant of skipping two meetings of Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot last week. The Congress had requested the speaker to initiate proceedings against the absentee MLAs
Pilot camp filed a caveat petition in the court, saying nothing should be done without notifying them first. Arguing that if a group of MLAs raises its voice against the style of CM’s functioning it cannot be termed defection. It further argued that the party whip applies only when the assembly is in session. And issuing such a notice is a violation of their freedom of expression. The rebels have argued in court that they do not intend to quit the party. They only want a change in the leadership. Mr Sibal appearing for the speaker said their act of not joining the meetings amounted to giving up their membership.
Joshi had argued that the notice issued to the MLAs was in the realm of legislative proceedings under 10th schedule. Also stated that the judicial review of an ongoing anti-defection proceedings was limited. Further argued that the high court order on holding off action against the rebels amounted to violation of Article 212.
Article 212 of the Constitution requires courts not to enquire into the proceedings of the legislature.
Can a person elected by people not express his dissent?
Voice of dissent cannot be suppressed. In a democracy, can somebody be shut down like this?” Justice Arun Misha, heading the Supreme Court bench, asked Kapil Sibal, who is representing the speaker.
“We will hear only on the question of whether the court can interfere with the speaker’s proceedings or not. We will not go into whether the speaker acted mala fide or bona fide. We cannot go into that”, the Supreme Court said.
The court told to wait for a day when aske whether the HC have right to interfere or give orders protecting rebels from action. The judges also questioned why the Speaker, a neutral person, should approach the Court at all.
Pilot has served a legal notice to Congress MLA legislat Malinga for the false and malicious statement”. Malinga had stated to the media that Pilot had offered him a bribe of 35 crores to join the BJP. The notice to MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga said he had tried to tarnish Mr Pilot’s image and asked him for Re 1 and a written apology.
The Rajasthan High Court will announce its ruling on the rebels’ petition tomorrow. SC , however, said that the matter in Rajasthan HC will be subject to the proceedings before the apex court.