It is a win for Sachin Pilot and his camp in the Supreme Court, as of now. The Supreme Court refused to stop the Rajasthan High Court from giving its verdict on the petition filed by Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebel MLAs. The Sachin Pilot and his camp had challenged the Assembly Speaker’s decision to disqualify them on the grounds of ‘anti-party activities’.
The Supreme Court asked some fundamental questions from Kapil Sibal, the counsel for the Assembly Speaker CP Joshi. The Court said, “when it is a matter of just one day, why can’t you wait”. Kapil Sibal, on behalf of the Speaker, was arguing for a stay on High Court’s verdict tomorrow. Further, the Supreme Court also asked whether it is right for a Speaker, an otherwise neutral position, to approach the Court against the MLAs.
The Supreme Court also commented on the freedom of the MLAs to speak their minds. “Assume a leader has lost the faith of persons. While remaining in the party they cannot be disqualified. Then this will become a tool and no one can raise their voice. The voice of dissent in a democracy cannot be suppressed like this,” said Justice AK Mishra, one of the three judges hearing the case, without referring to Rajasthan.
The Supreme Court, however, has said that the Rajasthan High Court’s ruling is subject to the final order by the Supreme Court, which will take up the case again on Monday, July 27.
As a matter of fact, Speaker CP Joshi had, last week, served notices to 19 rebel MLAs, including Sachin Pilot, as they did not attend two meetings of Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. The rebel MLAs filed a petition in the High Court arguing that they do not intend to quit the party; they only want a change in the leadership.
The Speaker’s sudden move to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention reflects the Congress’s worry that a legal victory for the rebels may endanger its government in Rajasthan. Interestingly, the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan has a marginal lead in the 200-seat assembly. And, if the rebel MLAs succeed to save their membership and vote against the Congress government, the Ashok Gehlot government may lose the floor test. Therefore, the Congress Party wants the membership of the rebels to be revoked so that they may be disqualified for their voting rights.