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[Rajasthan Politics] No Stay On BSP-Congress Merger; Any Transaction On Floor Of House Will Be Subject To Court Orders: SC

Nilashish Chaudhary & Radhika Roy
13 Aug 2020 10:08 AM GMT
[Rajasthan Politics] No Stay On BSP-Congress Merger; Any Transaction On Floor Of House Will Be Subject To Court Orders: SC
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While declining the plea to stay the Speaker's decision to stay the merger of BSP MLAs of Rajasthan assembly with Congress, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that any transactions on the floor of the house during the assembly session scheduled tomorrow will be subject to the orders of the Court.

The Court was hearing the special leave petition filed by BJP MLA Madan Dilawar, challenging 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 arguments submitted by Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Harish Salve and Dr. Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared for the Speaker, Dilavar and one of the six MLAs, respectively, and stated that any transaction that would take place on the floor of the House, would be subject to the Court's orders.

Today, Sibal submitted to the Court that the matter was going on before the Rajasthan High Court and that Dr. Dhavan was arguing the same at length.

Senior Advocate SC Mishra, appearing for BSP, sought for an interim order and submitted that the "democratic procedure will go if such things are allowed (referring to the merger)".

The Bench, however, was not inclined to entertain the matter as it was being heard by the Rajasthan HC.

Justice Mishra, at this juncture, noted that the Petitioner's concern was whether the Speaker's order would be used to transact any business on the floor of the House tomorrow.

Sibal responded, "It's unheard of. The matter is part-heard in High Court at the moment. There is no agenda that has been issued thus far, with respect to any business in the House."

In response to the Bench's question as to be sure if there is no agenda, Sibal placed a call to the Speaker's office and informed the Bench that the Business Advisory Committee is to meet at 10am tomorrow and that the agenda will be decided only after that.

After a short Passover, the matter was taken up again, with Salve submitting that the matter before the High Court has been adjourned to tomorrow and no interim order has been passed.

"Effectively, we are at the same position as we were when your Lordships heard it last time. I'm also told that tomorrow the House will sit".

Justice Mishra reiterated that the Supreme Court cannot into merits right now and they will not interfere at this stage.

Sibal and Dr. Dhavan both submitted that there was no urgency at this point, with Dhavan saying, "Instead of coming to Court, if the Committee feels they need to initiate a no-confidence motion, then that's their discretion. Mr. Salve's argument is an "if and but "argument. If this happens, then protect us; if that happens, then also protect us. What's the urgency at this point Urgencies are not decided on if there could be a vote. Very narrow issue before your Lordship. These are only anticipatory worries before you."

Dhavan stated that the correct procedure would be for the Committee to initiate a no-confidence motion.

At this point, Salve submits that the matter may be taken up on Monday; other lawyers agreed.

Accordingly, the Bench listed the matter on coming Monday.

"We are not passing any interim orders. Any transaction that takes place will obviously be subject to the Court's order."

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 was 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 later withdrawn. After that the Speaker passed an order on 28th July dismissing Dilawar's petition to disqualify the BSP MLAs. This was further challenged by Dilawar before the Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court.

Both the single bench and the division bench of the Rajasthan HC refused to order interim stay of the Speaker's decision.

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. During the previous hearing, Advocate Amit Pai withdrew the transfer petition.

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