Rajasthan guv says no justification provided to hold urgent Assembly session, 21-day notice needed

The Governor has reportedly also written to Ashok Gehlot asking who is responsible for his security after Gehlot said that people will gherao the Raj Bhawan if an Assembly session is not convened soon

FP Staff July 24, 2020 23:36:17 IST
Rajasthan guv says no justification provided to hold urgent Assembly session, 21-day notice needed

Amid the back and forth between Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and governor Kalraj Mishra over calling for an Assembly session, the governor's secretariat on Friday issued a statement saying that the cabinet had not provided any justification for its demand to hold an Assembly Session, nor an agenda for the same.

The statement added that a 21-day notice is needed for the Assembly session to be convened as per protocol.

The secretariat also said that the cabinet's note doesn't mention the date for which it is asking for an Assembly session to be held, neither has any approval been given for it by the cabinet.

The statement further said that the government "should ensure freedom and free movement of all MLAs".

Meanwhile, The Indian Express quoted a letter written by Mishra over Gehlot's comments of "gheraoing the Raj Bhawan". Reportedly the letter was written soon after he assured the Congress MLAs that he will call a session of the state Assembly.

In the letter addressed to Gehlot, Mishra wrote, "You have publically said that if Raj Bhawan is 'gheraoed' then it is not your responsibility. If you and your home ministry can't protect the governor then what about law and order in the state? What agency should be contacted for the governor's security. I've never heard such statement from any chief minister. Is this not the beginning of a wrong trend where MLAs protest at Raj Bhawan?"

Congress MLAs ended their five-hour dharna at the Raj Bhawan on Friday evening after Mishra's assurance.

However, Mishra has demanded clarification on some points before he makes the announcement, Congress leaders told PTI as they emerged from the Raj Bhawan.

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala had told TPI that these points will be taken care of at a Cabinet meeting which was scheduled to take place at 9.30 pm, without revealing what the pointers were.

Congress MLAs, who are part of Gehlot's camp, had gone to Raj Bhawan in the afternoon, complaining that the governor was sitting on a letter that the state Cabinet had sent seeking an Assembly session on Monday.

Earlier in the day, Gehlot and several other Congress leaders had also accused governor Mishra of delaying a decision on calling the Assembly session on the behest of the Central government. Gehlot had threatened to protest outside the Raj Bhawan if his demand was not met.

"We want an Assembly session from Monday," Gehlot had told reporters outside the hotel where the legislators supporting him are camping. "The governor is not giving orders for calling Assembly session under pressure," he told reporter on Friday afternoon after meeting Mishra over the issue.

According to Gehlot, after the recent cabinet meeting, the governor was requested to hold an Assembly Session to discuss the political situation, and review the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the state's economic situation.

"We hoped that the governor would issue an order to call the Assembly session yesterday (Thursday) night itself. We waited overnight but still there was no reply," Gehlot said.

"It is beyond our comprehension because simple procedures are adopted. The governor has to give orders. There is no reason for him to stop," he said adding that Mishra was holding a constitutional post and he should immediately take a decision to maintain the dignity of the post.

The chief minister also urged Mishra to make a decision regarding the Assembly session "on the basis of his conscience", PTI reported. Otherwise, he added, that the government can't be held responsible if people of the state gheraoed the Raj Bhawan.

Gehlot said he had the majority in the House, and that things would be crystal clear once a session is convened.

Referring to the disgruntled Congress MLAs camping in Haryana, Gehlot said: "This whole game is a conspiracy of the BJP and its leaders. What they did in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and other states , they also want to achieve in Rajasthan. But in Rajasthan, the people of the entire state, all MLAs are with us."

Cogress leader Kapil Sibbal too had slammed Mishra for not calling the Assembly session while also questioning the Rajasthan High Court's order maintaining status quo on the disqualification notice issued by the state Assembly speaker to 19 dissident Congress MLAs, including Sachin Pilot.

"There is today a new definition of democracy and a new way of functioning of governors of states in this country. Governors are supposed to uphold the Constitution and the laws, but governors in this country are acting at the behest of the Union government," Congress leader Kapil Sibal told a virtual press conference.

"Governors are no longer protectors of the rule of law, but they are protectors of the party in power," he added.

Sibal, also a senior advocate, suggested that perhaps lawyers should also take off their robes since high courts are no longer bound by judgments issued by Constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

Sibal's comments were in reference to a Rajasthan High Court order asking the Assembly Speaker to maintain the 'status quo' on the disqualification proceeding against the dissident MLAs.

"The court has given a status quo order on the 14 July order of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Speaker. The court has observed that the petitioners' prayer numbers 3 and 4, which seek to allow them to continue as MLAs, does not come under its jurisdiction," advocate Prateek Kasliwal, lawyer of Assembly Speaker CP Joshi, told reporters.

He also said that the high court has made the Central Government a party in the case.

"The court has also directed to complete the pleading in the matter. The final hearing will take place after the pleading completes and an early listing application is moved. The high court will only hear the matter related to whether the notice issued by the Speaker was right and whether Schedule 2 (1) (A) is constitutional," Kasliwal said.

The lawyer said that the matter will now be taken up by the Supreme Court.

Earlier, Rajasthan High Court had asked Assembly Speaker CP Joshi to defer the proceedings pending before him on the disqualification notices issued to Pilot and 18 MLAs of his faction and put off the verdict on the matter till 24 July.

"If the high court is going to pass this kind of order, what's the point in arguing before the court. Forget the law, tell the people of the country what is happening in the country," the former union minister said.

Congress leader Anand Sharma on Twitter said, "Supreme Court is the last hope to save constitutional democracy. India is watching whether constitutional bench judgements and supreme court settled laws on floor tests will be honoured or not?"

The brazen attempt to topple an elected government with a popular mandate and majority is a shameful assault on democracy, he said.

"We are witness to both Constitutional immorality in Rajasthan. Judiciary is the custodian of Constitution and must uphold it in letter and spirit," Sharma said.

With inputs from agencies

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