The Rajasthan High Court on Friday (July 17) provided a four-day breather to Sachin Pilot and 18 dissident MLAs of the Congress, barring the Assembly Speaker from taking action on the disqualification notices served on them.
The division bench of the court, hearing the dissident MLAs’ petition against the Speaker’s notices, adjourned Friday evening, and fixed the next hearing for 10 am on Monday. The counsel for the Speaker assured the court that no order shall be passed on the notice till 5.30 pm on Tuesday.
Earlier, Speaker CP Joshi had written to the court that the notices will not be acted upon till 5 pm on Friday. The counsel agreed to extend this to 5 pm on Tuesday as the court is yet to give an order on the petition.
The petition had challenged the notices based on a Congress complaint that the MLAs should be disqualified from the Rajasthan Assembly for defying a party whip. The court of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta also asked Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi to respond to the dissidents’ petition by Saturday.
The Pilot camp has argued 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 dissidents 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 which they represent in the House.
They Congress claims that this is the inference that can be drawn from the MLAs’ conduct. But the dissident camp says Pilot never indicated any intention to leave the party.
Pilot was sacked as deputy chief minister and the president of the state unit of the party after he rebelled against Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. He has been upset for not being picked for the CM’s post after the 2018 assembly polls. Pilot’s supporters said he deserved credit for the party’s election victory after a campaign helmed by him as the state unit chief.
(With inputs from agencies)