Why Can’t You Wait For A Day Supreme Court Asks Speaker
The voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be shut down, the Supreme Court noted today, hearing the Rajasthan Speaker’s petition challenging any court interference on disqualification notices he had served to Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress rebels last week. Speaker CP Joshi has asked the Supreme Court to stop the Rajasthan High Court from giving any verdict on the rebels’ challenge to the disqualification notices. “It is the matter of Just one day. Why can’t you wait,” the Supreme Court asked during arguments on whether the High Court had any right to interfere or give protective orders for the rebels. The judges also questioned why the Speaker, a neutral person, should approach the court at all.
- Assume a leader has lost the faith of persons. While remaining in party they cannot be disqualified. Then this will become a tool and no one can raise their voice. The voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be suppressed like this,” said Justice AK Mishra, without referring to the Rajasthan crisis.
- He was responding to the arguments of the Speaker’s counsel Kapil Sibal defending his right to serve notices questioning rebels why they skipped party meetings. “The High Court cannot give any protective order at this stage to the other camp. No court can intervene when the Speaker is deciding the case,” Mr Sibal said.
- Justice Mishra asked: “After all they have been elected by the people. Can they not express their dissent?” Mr Sibal replied that they would need to explain. “It is the Speaker which will decide, not any court,” he said.
- Speaker CP Joshi had served notices to 19 rebel MLAs, including Sachin Pilot, after they skipped two meetings of Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot last week. The rebels have argued in court that they do not intend to quit the party; they only want a change in the leadership. Mr Sibal said their act of not joining the meetings amounted to giving up their membership.
- The Speaker’s decision to go to the Supreme Court reflects the Congress’s worry that a legal victory for the rebels may endanger its government in Rajasthan. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has a narrow lead in the 200-member assembly – just one MLA over the majority mark of 101. If the courts decide team Pilot’s 19 MLAs can be disqualified, Mr Gehlot can win more easily as the majority mark will come down.
- If the rebel MLAs win their case against disqualification, then they can vote against the Congress government and make it tough for Mr Gehlot to retain power in Rajasthan.
- The Chief Minister’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging attempts to dislodge his government by the BJP – he named Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat — and “ambitious” members of his own party emerged last evening.
- “At a time when our priority should be to save lives and livelihoods of the masses, the centre has become the main conspirator in toppling a state government,” Mr Gehlot wrote to PM Modi. “I don’t know how much you know about this or whether you are being misled. History will also not forgive those who are complicit in these plots,” he said.
- The Chief Minister has accused Sachin Pilot, his deputy until he sacked him last week, of conspiring with the BJP to bring down the Congress government in Rajasthan in a plan similar to Madhya Pradesh, where the Kamal Nath government crashed in March following Jyotiraditya Scindia’s switch from the Congress to the BJP.
- Sachin Pilot yesterday sent a legal notice to a Congress MLA who accused him of trying to bribe him into defecting. The notice to MLA Giriraj Singh Malinga said he had tried to tarnish Mr Pilot’s image and asked him for Re 1 and a written apology.