Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the state High Court’s July 24 order staying proceedings on disqualification petitions against 19 rebel MLAs, including former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.
In his petition, Joshi submitted that the impugned order “interdicts the petitioner/Speaker from acting under the Tenth Schedule at the stage of notice itself and restrains him from even proceeding to call for replies/comments from the respondents”.
The Speaker has also requested the apex court to rein in the “indiscipline”, contending that the Rajasthan High Court is violating the apex court verdict in Kihito Hollohan matter.
“The impugned order of the High Court is a direct interference in the ‘proceedings of the House’ under Para 6(2) of the Tenth Schedule which is prohibited, under Article 212 of the Constitution,” said the plea.
It urged the apex court “to ensure that the the authorities under the Constitution, including the judiciary, exercise its jurisdiction within the boundaries and function within their respective ‘Lakshman Rekhas’ envisaged by the Constitution itself.”
The plea contended that the judiciary was never expected, under the Tenth Schedule, to interfere in the manner it has done in the instant case, resulting in encroachment by the High Court in the field exclusively reserved for the Speaker.
Citing the 13 questions put out by the High Court in its verdict, the plea said: “The ostensible 13 questions are repetitive. It is respectfully submitted that the 13 ostensible questions framed in the impugned order are already answered and part of settled law laid down by this court and on this ground too, the impugned order deserves to be set aside.”
Earlier on Monday, Speaker CP Joshi had dropped his plea in the Supreme Court, against the High Court order asking him to defer his decision on disqualification notices issued to former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and 18 rebel Congress MLAs.
Rajasthan Speaker’s counsel, Kapil Sibal, had then told the top court that the Rajasthan High Court had passed a fresh order on July 24 which raised several other issues including interpretation of the 10th Schedule.
Sibal said the Congress government will weigh the legal options and added that the high court Friday order may be challenged after that.
The political tide in Rajasthan has not been quite favourable for the Gehlot camp as the high court, in a huge setback for the Congress government, accepted team Pilot’s eleventh-hour request to add Centre as a party in the disqualification case.
On July 24, the Rajasthan High Court made Centre a party in the case against Congress in the petition filed by team Pilot against the disqualification notice served by the Speaker and ordered status quo to be maintained.
The order came a day after the Supreme Court rejected the Rajasthan Speaker’s petition to intervene in the High Court’s order to defer anti-defection proceedings against the rebels, saying that “the voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be suppressed”.
The top court concluded its hearing saying that the Rajasthan High Court can pass orders on rebel MLAs plea against disqualification notice from the Speaker.
Assembly Speaker CP Joshi had on July 22 moved the Supreme Court challenging the High Court decision extending the time for Sachin Pilot and 18 rebel Congress MLAs to reply to the anti-defection notice of July 14.
The Speaker had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to avert what he called a “constitutional crisis” in the state.
The plea contended that the High Court has intervened in the pending Tenth Schedule proceedings at the initial notice stage and restrained the Speaker from even calling for replies and conducting the disqualification proceedings pending against the rebel MLAs till July 24.
After Sachin Pilot and the rebel MLAs gave the second CLP meeting a miss on July 14, the Congress announced the removal of Pilot as the Deputy Chief Minister as well as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief.
Two other ministers, Vishvender Singh and Ramesh Meena, who joined him in his revolt, were also dropped from the Ashok Gehlot cabinet.
On the same evening, 19 dissident Congress leaders including Sachin Pilot were served notices by assembly Speaker CP Joshi for indulging in “anti-party activities”.
The Congress government is witnessing a major crisis after Sachin Pilot announced that the Gehlot government was in minority and claimed the support of 30 MLAs.