24 Jul 2020
Another win for Team Pilot, Rajasthan HC orders status quo
Written byShalini Ojha
In what qualifies as yet another win for former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot, and another setback for CM Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan High Court on Friday ordered that the status quo must be maintained on the disqualification notices.
The court, which had reserved the verdict on Tuesday, also accepted Team Pilot's plea to make Centre a party in the case.
Crisis in making: Congress woes started after it chose Gehlot
The current showdown finds its roots in 2018 when Congress returned to power. Instead of Pilot, who tirelessly worked for years for the party's revival, Congress chose Gehlot as the CM.
After not sharing cordial ties with his senior for months, Pilot revolted last week. He was furious as he was summoned in connection to a case linked to an alleged plot against Gehlot's government.
Series of events
Pilot camped in Haryana, rejected Congress' offers, was sacked
With his loyalists, Pilot arrived in Manesar, Haryana, and claimed that Gehlot lacks numbers in the 200-member Assembly. Last week, Congress extended an olive branch, asking Pilot to resolve differences through dialogue.
But as he remained adamant, Congress sacked him from deputy CM and the state party president posts.
Despite the unceremonious exit, Pilot said he was still with Congress, and won't join BJP.
Crisis took new turn when Speaker threatened MLAs with disqualification
Meanwhile, Speaker CP Joshi issued notices to 19 MLAs, including Pilot, asking why they were absent from two meetings. Seeking a reply by last Friday (July 17), Joshi told them they could be disqualified.
Thereafter, Pilot's camp approached HC, arguing that dissent shouldn't warrant disqualification.
On Tuesday, HC reserved order on the matter, asking Joshi to wait till Friday before deciding on MLAs' fates.
Unhappy with lower court's order, Joshi approached Supreme Court
Naturally, Joshi wasn't happy with HC's directive. He approached Supreme Court, where his counsel, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, told a three-judge bench that courts can't intervene when the Speaker is deciding on the matter.
On knowing why the disqualification process was initiated, the bench commented that dissent can't be stifled in democracy.
SC also wondered why Joshi couldn't wait for just one day.
HC protected rebel MLAs, Gehlot swung to action
As all attention returned to HC, the bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta refused to take any action against the rebel MLAs. The bench deferred its verdict on the matter till July 27, when a hearing is scheduled in the top court.
Handed over a setback, Gehlot is reportedly planning a visit to Governor Kalraj Mishra's house.
Amid threat to his chair, Gehlot said floor test possible
In an interview with Indian Express earlier, Gehlot had indicated he isn't averse to a floor test.
"We are not shying away from anything which the democratic processes may require at any point in time. If required, we are ready for a floor test and will win it with a thumping majority," he told the daily.
He met the Governor yesterday as well.
Interestingly, Gehlot seemed ready to "pardon" Pilot for his revolt
In the same interaction, he was asked if he would mend ties with Pilot.
The seasoned Congress leader replied, "This would depend upon the future course of action by Shri Pilot and the decision by the Congress high command. I will welcome (him) if he decides to again repose his faith in the Congress."
Court battle done, the focus is now on Assembly!