The high-voltage drama in the desert state got extended by another day as the Rajasthan High Court on Monday (July 20) said it would resume hearing on Tuesday the petition filed by the dissident MLAs of the Sachin Pilot camp against the disqualification notices served on them by the assembly Speaker.
The hearing remained inconclusive on Monday and Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty said it will be concluded on Tuesday. The order is also likely to be pronounced on Tuesday.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel for the Speaker, argued that the petition was premature as a decision was yet to be taken on disqualifying the MLAs from the House. He said there was no scope for interference by a court over the show cause notices issued by the Speaker.
In case the court rules in favour of disqualification of the Pilot loyalist MLAs, the strength of the state assembly would be reduced, thus placing Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in a better position to save his government. Currently, Gehlot claims the support of 109 MLAs in the 200-member assembly.
The dissident MLAs had moved the court on Friday amid infighting in the state unit of the Congress, as Chief Minister Gehlot and his now-sacked deputy Pilot tussled for power. The petition was taken up a by a bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta.
The proceedings resumed on Monday morning and continued till the evening. The notices to the MLAs were served after their party complained to the Speaker that they had defied a whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings last week. However, the Pilot camp argues that a party whip applies only when the Assembly is in session.
In its complaint to the speaker, the Congress had sought action against Pilot and the other rebels 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 they represent in the House.
Pilot was sacked as the Rajasthan deputy chief minister and the president of the PCC after he rebelled against Gehlot. Speaker Joshi has given the rebel MLAs up to 5.30 pm to reply to disqualification notices, which the dissident camp wants the court to quash.
(With inputs from agencies)