'Moved court in haste,' say rebel Congress MLAs in Rajasthan HC, seek time to amend plea against disqualification notice

The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday granted time to Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs to file an amended petition challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the Rajasthan Speaker.

FP Staff July 16, 2020 17:46:29 IST
'Moved court in haste,' say rebel Congress MLAs in Rajasthan HC, seek time to amend plea against disqualification notice

The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday granted time to Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs to file an amended petition challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the Rajasthan Speaker.

The petition against the move to disqualify the rebel MLAs from the state assembly was moved by MLA Prithviraj Meena who is among one of the 18 MLAs supporting beleaguered Congress leader Sachin Pilot. The petitioner is being represented by senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi.

It was taken up for hearing at 3 pm but Salve sought time to amend it. Salve argued that the MLAs wanted to challenge the constitutional validity of the notices and needed some time to file it afresh. The matter would now be heard by the division bench of the high court.

The rebel MLAs, in their petition, had alleged that the state government was acting against the petitioners to threaten them.

The petitioners also termed the notices 'constitutionally invalid', adding that a probe by the Special Operations Group (SOG) was also launched merely to intimidate them for raising their voices against leadership issues within the party, India Today reported. 

The Congress party, meanwhile, has appointed its senior leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi to represent the Rajasthan Speaker in the court, ANI reported.

The Rajasthan Assembly Speaker had sent notices to Pilot and his 18 supporters on Tuesday after the Rajasthan Congress sought their disqualification on the grounds that the MLAs 'deliberately' defied a party whip and did not attend its legislature party meetings.

All 19 MLAs were supposed to file a reply before Friday.

Among those sent notices are Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, who were sacked along with Pilot from the state cabinet after their rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Others include Deepender Singh Shekhawat, Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Harish Chandra Meena, who had given statements to the media challenging the Gehlot government.

According to PTI, the Speaker initiated disqualification proceedings against the 19 MLAs after Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi, wrote to the Speaker, alleging that that the MLAs deliberately conspired against the Congress, acting openly against its interests.

The Congress chief whip alleged that over the past several days attempts are being made to topple the state government through corruption, bribery and other illegal means . He also referred to a probe by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Rajasthan Police to investigate the conspiracy .

The Congress has accused the opposition BJP of trying to lure its MLAs. AICC general secretary Avinash Pande on Wednesday said it was up to the Speaker to decide what action to take if the replies to the notices were not satisfactory.

Gehlot too, has been taking swipes at Pilot for his rebellion, indicating that the younger leader was acting entitled without undergoing the due struggle.

"Speaking good English, giving good quotes and being handsome isn't everything. What is in your heart for the country, your ideology, policies and commitment, everything is important... A knife made of gold is not for use on a plate for eating. Do you get my drift?"  Gehlot told his supporters on Wednesday.

"I have been in politics for 40 years, we love the new generation, the future will be theirs. This new generation, they have become central ministers, state presidents if they had gone through what we did in our time, they would have understood," Gehlot was quoted as saying.

Pilot was removed as the state's deputy chief minister on Tuesday, and two MLAs close to him also lost their position in the state cabinet. The 18 MLAs supporting Pilot are reportedly lodged at a hotel in Haryana's Manesar, a state ruled by the BJP.

Pilot, meanwhile, has said in a press conference that he will not join the BJP and it is people in Congress who are spreading such rumours to malign him.

"I am not joining the BJP," Pilot said on Wednesday, asserting that he had worked hard to defeat the saffron party and bring the Congress back to power in Rajasthan.

Pilot told PTI that some leaders in Rajasthan were trying to fuel speculation that he is joining the BJP and he would like to categorically state that he was not doing so.

BJP also echoed Pilot's claims.

Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Wednesday said that no talk has been held between Pilot and the BJP, reported PTI.

The opposition party has maintained that the Rajasthan political crisis is a result of infighting within Congress and it has no role to play in it. But the party also said that the doors of the saffron party were open to those who believed in its ideology.

With inputs from PTI

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