[Breaking] Rajasthan HC reserves order in challenge to Speaker's notice; no coercive action against Sachin Pilot, Congress MLAs till July 24

[Breaking] Rajasthan HC reserves order in challenge to Speaker's notice; no coercive action against Sachin Pilot, Congress MLAs till July 24

The Court has stated that no coercive action is to be taken against Pilot and the MLAs till July 24, on which date the order will be pronounced.

The Rajasthan High Court today reserved its verdict in the challenge to the show cause notice issued by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to Sachin Pilot and other rebel Congress MLAs (Prithviraj Meena v. Hon'ble Speaker & Ors).

The Court has stated that no coercive action is to be taken against Pilot and the MLAs till July 24, on which date the order will be pronounced.

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The order was reserved by a Bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta.

While listing the matter for appropriate orders on July 24, the Bench stated in its order,

"In view of above directions, we therefore, further request the Hon’ble Speaker, who has been pleased to extend the period for filing reply by the writ petitioners till 5.30 p.m. as of today i.e. 21.07.2020, to extend the said period till the delivery of orders by this Court on 24/07/2020 and we direct accordingly."

Rajasthan High Court

Today, the Bench heard arguments by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioners. He submitted that the Supreme Court's judgment in Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillu doesn’t say that if an MLA criticises CM, the High Court will be powerless to look at the facts. He said,

"Kihoto cannot be used to oust my challenge before the High Court at the preliminary stage, as is being argued by the other side."

Rohatgi further argued that the issuance of show cause notice by the Speaker "reeked of mala fides", owing to the following facts:

1. Notice was issued on the same day complaint was made.

2. Application of mind required on part of Speaker. Nothing on record to show that he did so.

3. Notice is returnable in three days, by 1 PM. Also says if there is no response in writing, matter will be disposed of ex parte, during COVID-19.

"Consummate reading of these facts leave no manner of doubt that the decision (to suspend MLAs) is a foregone conclusion. What was the tearing hurry?", queried Rohatgi.

He thus urged the Court to direct the Speaker to file a better affidavit answering all the questions raised. After asking the Court to decide the matter at a preliminary stage, Rohatgi concluded his rejoinder submissions.

Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for the respondents, was next to make sur-rejoinder submissions. After taking the Court through the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Rules of Procedure, Kamat submitted,

"In none of the notices issued to MLAs across the country are reasons required to be given."

After hearing the submissions, the Court proceeded to reserve its verdict. The judgment will now likely be passed on July 24.

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