JAIPUR: The Rajasthan speaker is likely to seek closure of proceedings in the SC on Monday on his petition challenging the high court’s jurisdiction to interfere in the process of adjudication of disqualification petition filed by the Congress chief whip against 19 Congress MLAs, reports Dhananjay Mahapatra.
TOI had reported in its final edition yesterday that the Congress was likely to retract the Speaker’s plea. Congress sources said the speaker’s hurried SC petition was meant to make the HC follow the 1992 Kihoto Hollohan judgment.
But it has now become an academic exercise as the HC has rendered a decision that restrains the speaker from carrying out his constitutional duties in complete breach of the Hollohan judgment, they said.
In the meantime, the SC too has enlarged the scope of the debate in a settled legal position by deciding to scrutinise whether dissent could be stifled through disqualification, which is not germane to the current political and constitutional crisis.
The lawyers are of the opinion that long pendency of such matters in courts could constrict swift political manoeuvring by Congress in Rajasthan, delay sorting out the issues and give wings to the rebel MLAs.
The deference shown by the speaker in appearing before the Rajasthan high court after the rebel MLAs challenged his notice to them has turned into a judicial fetter that holds him from discharging his constitutional functions, which include deciding the pending disqualification petitions, the Congress legal team said.
The speaker, in good faith and showing respect to the judiciary, had appeared before the HC to point out that it could not go beyond the fivejudge SC bench’s judgment in Hollohan case, which had laid down that neither the HC nor the SC could interfere in disqualification proceedings before the speaker.
The SC had also ruled that only after the speaker rendered a decision could it be challenged in constitutional courts. “Since the speaker could not be asked to show cause either by the HC or the SC, if he had not appeared before the HC, he could not have been faulted. If he had proceeded with disqualification proceedings, his actions would have been in consonance with the ruling in the Hollohan judgment. He cannot be worse off for showing deference to constitutional courts,” a lawyer on the party’s legal team said.
The lawyers find no purpose in prolonging proceedings in the SC as it could impede efforts to weed out the rebels. “What is needed is a political thrust to point out the partisan role played by the governor in delaying summoning of the House despite the advice rendered by the council of ministers headed by Ashok Gehlot. At the first opportunity, Gehlot should prove his majority on the floor of the House,” the lawyer said.