Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the state High Court’s July 24 order asking him to maintain “status quo” on the question of disqualification of 19 rebel Congress MLAs of the Sachin Pilot camp, saying that “the High Court acted in gross judicial indiscipline” and the order was a “direct intrusion” into the Speaker’s domain.
The Speaker had issued a notice to these rebel MLAs on July 14 after the Congress had complained that they had defied a whip to attend two legislature party meetings. As the MLAs moved the High Court challenging the notice, the court, in an interim order on July 21, asked the Speaker to give them time till July 24 to reply to his notice. Joshi then approached the Supreme Court, which refused to stay the order, saying that the matter needs to be heard in detail. As the High Court passed a status quo order on July 24, Joshi had withdrawn his petition to weigh his legal options.
Sources in the Congress said the Speaker is unlikely to seek an urgent hearing as the political battle is still ongoing in Rajasthan.
In the fresh petition, the Speaker said the High Court order “is ex facie unconstitutional and in the teeth of the law declared” by a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in the 1992 case of Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu and Others. “The impugned order restraining the Speaker from performing his Constitutional duties under the Tenth Schedule is a direct intrusion by the High Court into the domain exclusively reserved for the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution,” it said.
The order “interdicts the Petitioner/Speaker from acting under the Tenth Schedule at the stage of notice itself and restrains him from even proceeding to call for replies/comments from the Respondents”, the petition said, terming it “a direct interference in the proceedings of the House…”.
The order is “constitutionally impermissible”, argued the plea filed through Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha, and Advocate Sunil Fernandes.
In the Kihoto case, Joshi said, the Supreme Court had stated that courts cannot interdict the Speaker from proceeding at the quia timet stage (where action is threatened or imminent but has not yet commenced).
Seeking an interim stay on the order, the Speaker said “the High Court acted in gross judicial indiscipline and judicial impropriety in seeking to reopen settled issues decided by a Constitution Bench of this Hon’ble Court in Kihoto”.
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