Jaipur: Asked by a court to defer action against Sachin Pilot and other Congress rebels, the Rajasthan Speaker said today he had decided to go to the Supreme Court against the delay to “avert a constitutional crisis”.
Speaker CP Joshi, who served disqualification notices to 19 rebel MLAs including Sachin Pilot for “anti-party activities”, was first asked to defer action by three days last week. Yesterday, he was asked by the Rajasthan High Court not to take any action until Friday, when it will announce its decision on the rebels’ petition challenging the notices.
“It is well-defined by the Supreme Court that only the Speaker can decide on anti-defection. The Speaker had full authority to send notice. It can be judicially reviewed only later, after the Speaker’s decision,” said Mr Joshi, calling the rebels’ petition a dangerous precedent that could lead to a breakdown of constitutional rules.
The Speaker’s move to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention to restore his right to act against the rebels telegraphs his worry that the High Court verdict may not go in his favour. Yesterday, the Speaker’s counsel had indicated to reporters that he would hold action on the notices in the spirit of “mutual respect” between the two institutions.
Action shifts to the Supreme Court alongside speculation that Ashok Gehlot is keen on a test of strength in the Rajasthan assembly now, before team Pilot gets any more room to win over more MLAs.
Team Sachin Pilot got its second three-day breather after the High Court finished hearing arguments yesterday on the case against disqualification notices served after the rebels skipped two meetings of Congress MLAs, which was construed as defying a whip. The rebels have argued that no whip can be in place when the assembly is not in session. They also told the court they have no plans to quit the Congress; they only want change in its Rajasthan leadership.