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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Bid to circumvent constitutional authority through legal channel: Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi

On Tuesday, the court had “requested” Joshi to extend the period given to the rebel Congress MLAs to reply to his notice after the court deferred its order on the petition till July 24.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur | July 23, 2020 2:59:55 am
Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi. (File)

Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi said on Wednesday that he is “miffed with the Rajasthan High Court directions” to him.

On Tuesday, the court had “requested” Joshi to extend the period given to the rebel Congress MLAs to reply to his notice after the court deferred its order on the petition till July 24.

Joshi said on Wednesday that he has directed his counsel to file a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court to avoid a “constitutional crisis”. The SLP was subsequently filed in the Supreme Court.

“The role of constitutional authorities is defined in a parliamentary democracy. In 1992, the Supreme Court in the Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu case had established how the process of disqualification will be conducted and who has jurisdiction over it. The court said that the Speaker has jurisdiction and no court shall intervene till the Speaker makes a decision. This is the verdict of a constitution bench,” Joshi told reporters in Jaipur on Wednesday.

He said that the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in 1992 had restituted the validity of the 10th schedule. He said that according to his understanding of law, the court had said that quia timet order for the protection of members against whom disqualification proceedings are pending cannot be passed until the Speaker has decided on the disqualification petitions.

“I am kshubdh (miffed) with the orders given to me,” said Joshi in a press note issued to the media.

He said that since 1992, there is not a “single precedent” when a court has changed its decision in such a case and that judicial review can be done only after the Speaker has taken a decision. Joshi said there is no judgment where the court has intervened after show-cause notices have been issued by the Speaker.

“For the first time, our elected friends want to circumvent the functions of a constitutional authority through the legal channel. It is the right of the Speaker to ask for information and issue notices. It is only a show-cause notice and no decision has been taken,” said Joshi.

“In the writ petition which was presented, deliberately the complainant, the Chief Whip of the party, he was not made a party. Then in order to take it to a double bench from a single bench, it has been attempted to circumvent a law which has been upheld by the constitution bench of the Supreme Court.”

He added, “ In a parliamentary democracy, when one body, which has a defined role, if that role is circumvented, then it is a danger to parliamentary democracy. I have respected all the judgements 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. That is why I have decided and told my counsel to file an SLP in the Supreme Court that we are heading for a constitutional crisis.”

He added that the High Court order has encroached upon his constitutional authority and is opposite to the law upheld by the Supreme Court. He said he hoped that due to the nature and constitutional consequences of the High Court order, there won’t be any hindrances in the hearing before July 24. “Otherwise the special leave petition will fail and the constitutional authority of the Speaker will be diminished,” said Joshi.

He added that after the matter is decided by the Supreme Court, it will be a “landmark” decision that whether in a parliamentary democracy, merely issuing a show-cause notice conforms to the existing examples, rules, judgments or is against them.

“Two constitutional authorities, the court and the Speaker, if there is no coordination among them, then it is not right for parliamentary democracy. The next step is to file an SLP,” said Joshi.

He said he would not comment on the merits of the HC order. “I have adhered to the judgment given by High Court in toto but I am anticipating what will be the fallout of this and in order to anticipate this I asked my counsel to file an SLP in the Supreme Court,” said Joshi.

“We therefore, further request the Honourable Speaker, who has been pleased to extend the period for filing reply by the writ petitioners till 5.30 pm as of today ie July 21, to extend the said period till the delivery of orders by this Court on July 24,” the High Court order had said on Tuesday.

Initially, the Speaker had told the MLAs to reply to his notice by July 17. But the rebel MLAs approached the court on July 16, saying they had not violated the clause under which their disqualification was sought. When the hearing remained inconclusive on July 17, the court extended the Speaker’s deadline till July 21.

After the High Court order on Tuesday, the Speaker later agreed to defer any action “till the evening of July 24”.

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