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Rajasthan HC Adjourns Hearing As Sachin Pilot, Rebel MLAs Seek Time To Amend Petition To Challenge Constitutionality Of Some Provisions

16 July 2020 12:37 PM GMT
Rajasthan HC Adjourns Hearing As Sachin Pilot, Rebel MLAs Seek Time To Amend Petition To Challenge Constitutionality Of Some Provisions

The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing on the petition filed by Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebel congress MLAs, after Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioners, sought adjournment to file an amendment application to challenge constitutionality of some provisions.

Senior Advocate Salve also sought that the matter be heard by a division bench.

Accordingly, the bench of Justice Satish Kumar Sharma directed that the petition be listed on the filing of the application.

"Without expressing any opinion on the contentions put forth by both the sides, let the petition be listed on filing of the application for amendment of the writ petition so that appropriate consideration may be made on that count", the order stated.

The petition challenges the disqualification notices issued by the Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly against them on the ground stating that they violated the direction issued by Dr. Mahesh Joshi, the party chief whip, to attend the legislative party meeting on Monday and Tuesday.

Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, M S Singhvi and Advocate General Abhay Bhandari, appearing for the respondents, submitted that the petition was not maintainable.

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.

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.

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.

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