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Rajasthan Politics: BSP MLAs Withdraw Transfer Plea; SC Adjourns Hearing On BJP MLA's Challenge Against Congress-BSP Merger Till Aug 13

Radhika Roy
11 Aug 2020 2:32 PM GMT
Rajasthan Politics: BSP MLAs Withdraw Transfer Plea; SC Adjourns Hearing On BJP MLA
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Supreme Court has adjourned the SLP Filed by BJP MLA Madan Dilawar, challenging the Rajasthan High Court's refusal to stay Rajasthan Speaker Dr. CP Joshi's decision approving the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs with Indian National Congress (INC). 

A Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra heard the matter and adjourned the same on the grounds that the Rajasthan High Court was going to hear Dilawar's plea at 2 PM today. The matter is now listed on August 13 before the Supreme Court.

 Additionally, Advocate Amit Pai has withdrawn the transfer petition filed on behalf of the six BSP MLAs seeking to transfer the case from HC to SC.

In September 2019, the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker, Dr. CP Joshi, had allowed for the merger of six BSP MLAs with Congress. These six MLAs had been elected to the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly in December 2018 on the ticket issued by BSP. An Application submitted by them to the Speaker in September 2019, who allowed for the merger.

Challenging the Speaker's decision, Dilawar had moved the Rajasthan High Court in March 2020 under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India, seeking for a stay of the same in order to restrict the six MLAs from attending proceedings in the House while was the matter was pending in Court. This plea was allegedly withdrawn and the impugned order was delivered on 28th July. This was further challenged by Dilawar before the Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court.

On 6th August, the Division Bench of the Rajasthan HC disposed of the appeal, "without considering the Petitioner for interim relief". The Petitioner has therefore approached the Supreme Court by way of a Special Leave Petition.

In the meanwhile, a Transfer Petition was filed by the six MLAs, seeking a transfer to the Supreme Court, the petition filed in Rajasthan HC challenging the Speaker's order approving the merger with Congress.

The Transfer Petition contends that the merger of the "entire Legislative Party of the BSP" with the INC was recognized by the Speaker of the State Assembly, who subsequently went on to dismiss a disqualification petition "for non-compliance of Rule 6 of the Rajasthan Legislative Members (Disqualification on the ground of Defection) Rules, 1989".

Today, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of Dilawar, submitted that his client's disqualification petition had been dismissed on technical grounds.

When asked by Justice Mishra as to why the Court should go into the merits of the matter, Salve argued that the Order could not be passed under Para 4 of the Tenth Schedule as it was specifically on disqualification. Further, he informed the Bench that a transfer plea was filed by the six MLAs before Dilawar's plea was even listed.

Salve further stated, "This seems to be a curious case. Nothing to say really. Open and shut case this is. Speaker is supposed to be independent."

Advocate SC Misra, appearing for BSP, submitted, "The MLAs seek merger and the Speaker passes the same order. Under Rana's case, it was held that there needs to be a split under Rule 4. Then comes merger. Here, Speaker had no jurisdiction for merger. Under Rule 8 of Rajasthan Assembly, only Member of House can file disqualification petition. My earlier application was rejected because I was not an MLA".

At this point, Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, on behalf of one of the MLAs, "My Lord, I am only at the lower end." To this, Justice Mishra responded, "But, you are higher placed." Misra too quipped, "They wipe out my party and they say they are at the lower end."

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the Speaker, stated "In Goa, all Congress MLAs joined BJP, then it was all fine. Same thing happened in Nagaland."

Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan said, "If they cannot manage their own party, they should not come here."

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