Disqualification: Sachin Pilot & rebel MLAs move Rajasthan HC

Jaipur: Rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot, along with 18 other MLAs, have moved the Rajasthan High Court challenging the disqualification notices issued by the Speaker of Rajashan Assembly.

The petition, which was listed before a bench comprising Justice Satish Chandra Sharma today evening, was posted to tomorrow after Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioners, sought adjournment to amend the petition to incorporate challenge against some provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act.

The petition will be listed before a division bench tomorrow, in view of the constitutional issues involved.

The Speaker issued the disqualification notices to the rebel MLAs on Tuesday stating that they violated the direction issued by Dr. Mahesh Jpshi, the party chief whip, to attend the legislative party meeting on Monday and Tuesday. Stating that their activities were blatantly prejudicial to the continuation of the government, the Speaker gave them time till Friday to show cause for not disqualifying them on the grounds of defection under Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

The rebel MLAs assert in the writ petition that they have not expressed any intention to leave or voluntarily give up the membership of Indian National Congress.

“None of the petitioners herein have either by express conduct or implied conduct, indicated to the members of their constituencies and/or the public at large of their intention to leave or voluntary give up the membership of Indian National Congress”, the petition filed through Advocate Divyesh Maheshwari stated.

“Petitioners continue to express their allegiance to the party and are in manner seeking to defect any other party, much less bring down the government of which they have been part of,” the plea stated.

They argue that the failure to attend the party meetings is not a ground to disqualify under para 2(a) or 2(b) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

The petitioners state that mere expression of disagreement with certain policies or decisions taken by some members of the party cannot be said to be amounting to acting against the interests of the party or the continuation of the government.

“By no stretch of imagination, can a health discourse of the pros and cons of the policies sought to be adopted by the political party, albeit his own political party, be said to lead to an inference of the member “voluntarily giving up his membership” as contemplated under Para 2(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution”.

Pilot, who was removed as the Deputy Chief Minister of the state following his rebellion, states that the Speaker’s notice is based on “mala fide intention”, issued under pressure from Ashok Gehlot, the Chief Minister.

“The allegations are so baseless and no member of prudent mind can come to the conclusion that the Petitioners have voluntarily given up the membership of the Indian Congress Party”, the petition stated.

The petition also highlights that even if a person is expelled from a political party, such person will continue to be a member of the said political party for all practical purpose, by virtue of the deeming provision under Explanation (a) to Para (2) of the Tenth Schedule.

The plea seeks quashing of the notices on the ground that they were issued without jurisdiction and also with malafides. The notices are an abuse of the powers under Tenth Schedule to “stifle the freedom of speech” of the petitioners and to impose the “majoritarian views of the party” on them, the plea contends.

They seek the intervention of the High Court by saying that they cannot expect to get “justice” from the Speaker as he is acting under the influence of CM Ashok Gehlot.