Rajasthan political crisis: Important hearing in Supreme Court today
Today, the Supreme Court will take up the matter, pertaining to the political crisis in Rajasthan after Speaker CP Joshi disagreed with the outcome in Rajasthan High Court. Joshi, who sent disqualification notices to former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and his aides, was asked by HC to not take a decision till Friday. Upset over his wings being clipped, Joshi approached SC yesterday.
Joshi sent notices to 19 rebel MLAs, including Pilot, after they skipped two crucial CLP meetings convened by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot last week. The meetings were necessitated after Pilot left his home state and camped in Haryana, claiming that his boss, Gehlot, no longer enjoyed the majority in the Assembly. He was triggered to take this step after being summoned for an interrogation.
Served with notices on almost all platforms — WhatsApp, text message, emails — Pilot's camp knocked Rajasthan HC's doors. The country's top lawyers Mukul Rohatgi and Harish Salve argued for the MLAs, telling the bench that they didn't quit the party, but merely disagreed with the leadership. Rohatgi also said Joshi gave the MLAs just three days to reply, that too during coronavirus crisis.
Last week, HC adjourned the matter till Monday, while ordering Joshi to not take a final decision till then. On Tuesday, the bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash said it has reserved order and would pronounce it on Friday. Till then, Joshi was asked to hold his decision, again. Visibly angry, Joshi likened the developments to a "constitutional crisis."
Slamming the rebel MLAs, Joshi said they exploited legal channels to "circumvent the functions of constitutional authority." He pointed out that they deliberately didn't make Congress' Chief Whip a party in the case in the writ petition. He also said a Speaker is well within his rights to demand answers. "It is only a show-cause notice and no decision has been taken," he underlined.
"I have respected all the judgment of the court but if this means that there is encroachment while defining the role of two authorities, then it is a danger for parliamentary democracy," he told reporters while revealing that he would go to the SC.
After Joshi, surprisingly, went to the top court, Pilot's team followed suit, requesting the SC to hear them before taking up the Speaker's plea. Notably, if MLAs are disqualified, it would translate to a win for Gehlot as the Assembly's strength would be deflated. But if they stay in Congress and vote against him in a floor test, the senior leader can lose office.
While the battle moved to judicial outfits, Gehlot wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 19 claiming that Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, a few other BJP leaders, and some "ambitious members" of his own party wanted to topple his government. "History will never forgive those who are participating in such acts," he wrote in the letter, shared by his office yesterday.
On a related note, Pilot on Wednesday gave a statement after being accused by Congress MLA of horse-trading. Legislator Girraj Singh claimed the former state Congress chief offered him Rs. 35 crore to join BJP. Saying he was saddened but hardly surprised, Pilot sent a legal notice to Singh seeking a written apology and Re. 1. Despite bitter ties with Congress, Pilot has maintained he won't jump ships.