Rajasthan crisis in Supreme Court again, hearing on speaker’s plea against HC order

The Supreme Court will on Monday hear Rajasthan assembly Speaker CP Joshi’s petition challenging a July 21 order of the high court directing him to defer disqualification proceedings against 18 Congress legislators led by former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot.

A three-judge bench will hear Joshi’s special leave petition (SLP) at 11am related to whether courts can interfere with disqualification proceedings initiated by an assembly speaker against lawmakers even before a decision has been taken.

Pilot and 18 Congress MLAs moved the Rajasthan HC on July 16, challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by Joshi. The high court had on July 24 ordered status quo on the matter, admitted the writ petition by the Pilot camp and deferred its final verdict on the matter.

Before that, on July 22, the speaker had filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court.

Monday hearing will be Joshi’s second attempt to get the high court’s stay order cancelled.

Joshi had moved the top court complaining the high court had no jurisdiction to ask him to defer the disqualification proceedings. In his petition, Joshi called the court order “illegal, perverse and in derogation of the powers” of the speaker.

The top court had last week refused to accept Joshi’s initial request to cancel the high court’s stay order, pointing that the two high court judges had already reserved their order to be pronounced on Friday.

The high court, however, did not deliver its ruling on the case. It formally admitted Pilot’s petition against the disqualification notices on Friday, accepting the request to make the central government a party in the case and identified the legal points that it will take up during the hearings.

“The Speaker’s lawyers will be making arguments before the Supreme Court on Monday though the possibility of withdrawing the petition has not been ruled out,” a Congress functionary had said earlier.

Prateek Kasliwal, the speaker’s lawyer in Jaipur, said the decision regarding withdrawing the SLP will be taken by the legal team in Delhi.

Pilot has also moved a caveat in the Supreme Court to ensure that no orders are passed on Joshi’s petition without hearing him and his supporting MLAs.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who has represented the speaker in the high court, said his party wanted a floor test in the Rajasthan assembly and was “begging” for it, but the governor was not convening the House and “delaying” the trust vote allegedly at the behest of the Centre.

The fresh proposal sent to the governor did not have any mention of floor test though.

“Since no party has demanded a floor test, there is no need to mention that the House has to be convened for holding it. As already stated by the chief minister, the House will discuss Covid-19 situation and also conduct some important legislative business,” he said.

On Monday, Governor Kalraj Mishra returned the file related to the convening of the assembly session to the state’s parliamentary affairs department and sought additional details from the government.

Mishra has not taken any decision yet on calling the assembly session, people aware of the development added.

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