In relief to Sachin Pilot, SC says voice of dissent cannot be suppressed

The apex court has listed the case for Monday.
The Rajasthan High Court will deliver its verdict on a petition by Congress’ 19 dissident legislators, including Sachin Pilot, against the Assembly Speaker’s move to disqualify them on Friday at 10:30 am.

On Thursday morning, Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi failed to get any temporary relief on his plea in the Supreme Court (SC) that the high court cannot interdict the disqualification proceedings undertaken by him under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

The SC allowed the Rajasthan HC to pass a verdict on the petition, but said that it would be subject to the outcome of the petition before the top court. 

The apex court has listed the case for Monday.

According to sources close to Pilot, the rebel leader is now certain to launch a new political party once there is clarity on the status of his membership of the Rajasthan Assembly, as also that of other 18 legislators.

In the SC, Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai, and Krishna Murari said Joshi’s plea raises important questions and requires prolonged hearing. “Voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be shut down,” they observed. “We are trying to find out whether this process (disqualification) was permissible or not,” the Bench said.

It questioned Joshi on the reasons for initiating disqualification proceedings against the 19 dissident Congress MLAs. Senior Advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal, appearing for Joshi, listed the reasons. He said these MLAs did not attend party meetings and conspired to destabilise their own government.

Joshi had tried to convince the top court that the Rajasthan High Court has no jurisdiction to restrain him from conducting disqualification proceedings till July 24.

The high court’s order, if it goes in the favour of the dissidents, could fuel a further round of instability for the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan. It currently has a minuscule majority of 101 MLAs in the 200-member Assembly.

However, the court allowing the Speaker to proceed with disqualification of the 19 dissident MLAs would bring the majority mark down and ensure a more comfortable win for the Gehlot government in a floor test.

Gehlot has accused Sachin Pilot of conspiring with the BJP to bring down the Congress government in Rajasthan after the party’s Congress government was brought down in Madhya Pradesh, where troubles for his party have not ceased to end. He said the Assembly session will be ‘very soon’, and he will prove majority.

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