Speaker should have applied his mind before sending notice to Sachin Pilot, rebel Congress MLAs: Harish Salve argues before Rajasthan HC

Speaker should have applied his mind before sending notice to Sachin Pilot, rebel Congress MLAs: Harish Salve argues before Rajasthan HC

Salve argued that intra-party disputes cannot be a ground for starting disqualification proceedings against MLAs.

Bar & Bench

The Rajasthan High Court today adjourned proceedings in the petition filed by Sachin Pilot and other rebel MLAs of the Congress party challenging the issuance of notices by the Speaker of the legislative assembly for "anti-party activities".

Arguments in the matter will resume via video conference at 10:30 AM tomorrow.

The matter was heard today by a Division Bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Speaker of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Dr CP Joshi, continued with his arguments today. He argued that the courts have no jurisdiction over the disqualification of any member. Citing examples and precedents, Singhvi claimed that judicial review is absolutely barred in this case.

"What will happen if the Speaker orders video recordings of court proceedings?"

He went on to cite the Supreme Court's judgment in Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu and Ors. Even in Kihoto, the scope of judicial review was limited, Singhvi said. He added that until the Speaker decides on the disqualifications, the courts cannot interfere.

Singhvi went to cite the recent judgment in the Manipur Legislative Assembly case, where the Supreme Court urged Parliament to have a rethink on whether a Speaker ought to decide on disqualification petitions filed under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India.

In response to the claim of the rebel Congress MLAs that the Speaker had issued the disqualification notices with "unholy haste", Singhvi said,

"The Speaker is 71 years old. No office was conducted during Corona. Rajya Sabha elections from Rajasthan have been postponed. How can the petitioners say that the Speaker has jumped the gun?"

The Bench then raised the question as to whether the Speaker has to apply his mind while issuing a notice on a complaint against a legislator.

Singhvi clarified that as long as the complaint is not outlandish, there was no need for the Speaker to accord reasons to issue show cause notices.

The Bench then asked Advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for the Congress party, whether the MLAs in question were suspended. Kamat replied,

"The question is about initiating the process of disqualification. It's a constitutional process."

Kamat was then asked if the Congress party had filed an FIR against Pilot and the MLAs before raising a complaint with the Speaker. To this, he replied,

"Not my client, my lords, it is the government (of Rajasthan) which had filed the complaint."

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