Privilege motion moved against Rajasthan BJP MLA for plea in High Court

Rajendra Rathore had moved the court seeking direction to the Assembly Speaker to decide on the resignation of 81 Congress MLAs; Speaker C.P. Joshi says powers of the legislature, executive and judiciary are clearly defined

Updated - February 01, 2023 12:41 am IST

Published - January 31, 2023 11:52 pm IST - JAIPUR

A breach of privilege motion moved against senior BJP MLA and Deputy Leader of the Opposition Rajendra Rathore led to an uproar in the Rajasthan Assembly on Tuesday, with Speaker C.P. Joshi announcing that a decision on the motion will be taken shortly. The matter pertained to resignation by 81 ruling Congress MLAs after a failed CLP meeting here on September 25, 2022.

Mr. Rathore had filed a public interest litigation in the Rajasthan High Court seeking direction to the Assembly Speaker to decide on the resignations. The Assembly Secretary has since informed the court that all the 81 MLAs had appeared before the Speaker to withdraw their papers and their resignations were ‘not voluntary’.

Sanyam Lodha, Independent MLA from Sirohi, said while moving the privilege motion that Mr. Rathore had approached the High Court through PIL despite the matter being under consideration of the Speaker. “The Speaker had not taken a decision on the resignations... I am disappointed by the conduct of a senior member of the House. This amounts to breach of privilege of the Assembly,” he said.

Mr. Lodha, who is also one of the advisers to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, said there was a clear demarcation of power among the Constitutional institutions and none of them could encroach upon the jurisdiction of the other. While requesting the Speaker to hold an inquiry into the matter, Mr. Lodha said the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had insulted the electorate and sought to weaken the Assembly by going to the court.

The MLAs, considered loyal to Mr. Gehlot, had submitted the resignations en masse after boycotting a CLP meeting on September 25, 2022, in which the Congress high command was to be authorised to select a new CM. The resignation letters were lying with the Speaker for over three months, before the MLAs appeared before him and withdrew the papers ahead of the Assembly’s budget session.

When the Speaker allowed Mr. Lodha to speak on his motion after the Zero Hour, Mr. Rathore opposed it and all the Opposition members joined him. The BJP members stormed to the well of the House briefly and created an uproar.

An argument between Mr. Rathore and Mr. Joshi continued for some time, with the latter affirming that his power to allow the motion could not be challenged. “The House is run by the rules and not your will. You cannot dictate me,” Mr. Joshi said and added that sufficient time would be given to the Opposition members to speak during the debate on the motion.

The Speaker also said that the powers of the legislature, executive and judiciary were clearly defined in the Constitution. In his notice to move the privilege motion, Mr. Lodha referred to Article 190 (3)(b) of the Constitution, dealing with the resignation of Assembly members, and Rule 173 (2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly.

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