Rajasthan HC reserves order on plea of Sachin Pilot's camp
The Rajasthan High Court will pronounce order on the pleas filed by Sachin Pilot and members of his camp on Friday, the bench said while asking Speaker CP Joshi to not take a decision on their disqualification by then. Team Pilot, being represented by top lawyers Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, challenged notices sent to them after the state plunged into a political crisis.
42-year-old Pilot, upset after having to let go of the Chief Minister's chair post the elections of 2018, turned rebellious this month, thanks to summons issued to him. Taking 18 of his loyalists, he arrived in Manesar, rebuffed Congress' offers, and claimed CM Ashok Gehlot didn't have the majority. Last Tuesday, Pilot was removed as Deputy CM and Congress state unit chief.
While Pilot remained stern, Joshi asked his aides to reply as to why they shouldn't be disqualified, considering they skipped two crucial meetings of Congress. Last week, Pilot's camp approached HC, claiming that merely disagreeing with CM is no ground for disqualification.
During the hearing, Rohatgi, who has defended BJP in several cases in courts across the country, claimed Joshi didn't "apply his mind" while serving the notices. He told the bench, comprising Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta, that the Speaker showed hurriedness in serving the notices. Rohatgi said the MLAs were given just three days to reply, in the "middle of a pandemic."
Meanwhile, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented Congress, said MLAs can't approach a court before the Speaker's decision. "The Speaker and the Assembly are not in the judicial purview of the court for now," the top lawyer of Congress said.
The disqualification of MLAs is crucial for Gehlot, who currently has 103 MLAs in the 200-member strong Assembly. If the MLAs are disqualified, he can easily sail through the floor test. However, if they remain as Congress members and vote against him in the Assembly, the existence of his government could be threatened. BJP, with its 72 MLAs, can stake a claim as well.
On a lighter note, the hearing in Rajasthan HC echoed in Supreme Court on Monday. Singhvi, Bharti Airtel's representative in the AGR matter, forgot to switch off his microphone. His colleague, Rohatgi, who represented Vodafone, said, "Dr. Singhvi, the Rajasthan High Court hearing can be heard. Please mute your mic." Notably, in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, all court hearings are taking place virtually.