Nine Congress rebels at the heart of Uttarakhand’s political crisis on Tuesday accused the assembly speaker of not giving enough time to defend themselves before their disqualification and submitted in the high court video footage to back their claim.
A single-judge bench, hearing a petition by the MLAs against their disqualification, deferred its decision till April 28.
The nine Congress MLAs triggered the political crisis after they sided with the BJP during the budget session that ultimately led to imposition of President’s rule in the hill state on March 27.
Last week, the Supreme Court stayed until April 27 the high court’s two-judge bench order that had revoked President’s Rule. The apex court is hearing a petition filed by the Centre challenging the Uttarakhand high court verdict allowing trust vote in the assembly on April 29.
On Tuesday, the Congress MLAs’ counsel CA Sundaram filed a supplementary affidavit providing footage of a TV interview of speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal in which he purportedly pointed out that that he had ended the proceeding of questioning the rebel MLAs.
The rebel MLAs said that the speaker, who had earlier promised to give time to them on March 26 and 27 to hear their plea, ended the proceedings on 26 with a view to speeding up their disqualification before the floor test on March 28.
The speaker’s counsel Kapil Sibal countered the charges in the court of UC Dhyani.
“The speaker who holds the highest office in the assembly had not acted with malafide or perverse intentions on March 18 or thereafter when dealing with the rebel MLAs,” Sibal said.
Sibal said the proceedings in the legislature are protected and cannot be discussed in the courts.
Sibal also countered the arguments put forth by the rebels that they had not been given certain documents. “Please tell us, which are those documents,” he said.
Rejecting the Congress rebels’ claim that they were still in the party, the Congress told the court that they had “in one voice” with the BJP legislators told the governor that the Harish Rawat government was in minority and presented themselves as an alternative regime.