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Supreme Court refuses to stay Rajasthan Speaker’s decision on BSP MLAs

A view of the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi’s September 18, 2019 decision to recognise the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress party.

A Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra said the apex court will not interfere as the case against the merger is being heard by the State High Court. The court’s disinclination to intervene was despite apprehensions raised by petitioner and BJP leader Madan Dilawar that there may be a floor test in the Assembly on August 14.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, for Mr. Dilawar, raised the spectre of the six MLAs defying the BSP whip and voting in favour of the ruling Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for one of the six legislators, said the Business Advisory Committee was meeting at 10 a.m. on Friday to chalk out the agenda for the House.

“They will have to form an agenda. A no-confidence motion has not yet been moved. Meanwhile, the High Court is hearing the case filed by Mr. Dilawar for disqualification of the six MLAs on the ground of defection and a judgment may come in the meantime. As of now, this petition by Mr. Dilawar is based on apprehensions,” Mr. Sibal submitted.

Senior advocate S.C. Misra said the BSP MLAs had voted as Indian National Congress legislators in the Rajya Sabha election not so long ago. They had defied the BSP whip then.

Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | Partial relief to Ashok Gehlot government in BSP MLAs case

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said the High Court should be given time to decide the validity of the merger and the question of disqualification.

“As of now, this case is based on 'ifs' and 'buts'. The Supreme Court cannot pass orders on the basis of anticipatory worries,” Mr. Dhavan submitted.

“Yes, you’re right,” Justice Mishra reacted, saying any voting done now by the six legislators would be subject to the final decision of the High Court on the question of merger.

But Mr. Salve pressed for an immediate stay. “Even if you stay the Speaker’s order later, the BSP MLAs can say that the order was not stayed on that day (August 13) and so they can vote under the cover of the Speaker's acceptance of their merger...”

"No, it is not appropriate for us to interfere now. The high court is hearing the case," Justice Mishra insisted.The Bench adjourned the case to Monday.

In the previous hearing, the BSP had rued how the merger with the ruling Congress party had “wiped out” the party in the State.

Also read: Rajasthan crisis | BSP issues whip to 6 MLAs to vote against Congress

Mr. Dhavan had immediately retorted that the BSP “had no control of their own party” in the State.

The hearing is based on a petition filed by Mr. Dilawar against a Rajasthan High Court Division Bench order of August 6 refusing to immediately stay Assembly Speaker Joshi's recognition of the “merger”. Mr. Dilawar has maintained the Speaker, instead of accepting the ‘merger’ on September 18 last year, should have disqualified the six legislators for defection.

BSP has questioned the legality of the merger, saying for it to escape the guillotine of the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution, there has to be a split of the original party at national or State (if it is a regional party) levels. Then the merger, by no less than two-thirds members, should happen between parties at the national or State levels again.

Speaker Joshi had dismissed a complaint filed by Mr. Dilawar for disqualification of the six MLAs. The BJP leader had accused them of voluntarily relinquishing their BSP membership to “defect” to the Congress. The move had failed when the Speaker dismissed it for non-compliance of the Rajasthan Legislative Members (Disqualification on the ground of defection) Rules of 1989.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 4:06:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/supreme-court-refuses-to-stay-rajasthan-speakers-decision-on-bsp-mlas/article32346527.ece

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