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Jaipur, July 17, 2020
In a breather for sacked Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and MLAS loyal to him, the Rajasthan High Court on Friday stopped the Assembly Speaker from taking any action for their disqualification till Tuesday.
The two-judge bench, hearing the amended plea filed by the Pilot camp, said that the hearing will continue on Monday.
Advocate Anuj Bhandari, who was appearing for one of the lawmakers, said: "The hearing shall continue on Monday and is expected to conclude on Monday itself. Hence, the court stopped the Speaker to take any further action against the Pilot camp till Tuesday."
The Pilot camp had challenged the validity and legality of the notice sent to them on Tuesday by Speaker C. P. Joshi, asking them to explain why they should not be disqualified as Assembly members for defying the party whip.
The writ petition, filed by Prithviraj Meena and 18 other MLAs, argued that "free speech" cannot be labelled as "anti-party activity", and termed as "motivated" the complaint filed on behalf of Congress Chief Whip Mahesh Joshi.
They had argued that not attending two meetings called by the Congress Legislature Party cannot fall within the purview of para (2) (a) or (2) (b) of the Constitution's Tenth Schedule, so as to render him/them fit for disqualification on ground of defection.
Not attending party meetings as also voicing a difference of opinion outside the house are matters between the member and his party and do not fall within the Tenth Schedule, they argued.
They have also argued that they can't be served such notices when the Rajasthan Assembly is not in session.
The Pilot camp had moved the court on Thursday but then sought permission to amend their plea, which was granted. The court later accepted the amended plea filed by Pilot camp and referred to the matter to a division bench.
While the Pilot camp is being represented by two of India's top lawyers -- Mukul Rohatgi, a former Attorney General, and Harish Salve, the Speaker is being represented by Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
If the rebel MLAs are disqualified, the majority mark in the Assembly will drop, making it quite easy for Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to win a floor test.