Six Rajasthan MLAs facing disqualification seek transfer of case to Supreme Court
The petitioners contended that they are seeking transfer of the case to the Supreme Court because the legal issues raised in the petition before the Rajasthan high court are already under the consideration of the top court in another case from Assam.Updated: Aug 08, 2020 19:09 IST
Six MLAs from Rajasthan, who were elected to the assembly on Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) tickets and subsequently merged with the Congress party in 2019, moved the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking transfer to the apex court of a disqualification petition filed against them by BJP MLA, Madan Dilawar before the Rajasthan high court.
The petitioners contended that they are seeking transfer of the case to the Supreme Court because the legal issues raised in the petition before the Rajasthan high court are already under the consideration of the top court in another case from Assam, Mr. Mithou Krose v. Imtilemba Sangtam.
“Therefore, the present transfer petition is being moved so that there may be a uniform interpretation of the law,” the plea filed through advocate Amit Pai said.
The Congress government in Rajasthan is resting on shaky foundations after former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot along with 18 MLAs were rumoured to be quitting the party after he came out in the open against chief minister Ashok Gehlot. Rajasthan assembly speaker, CP Joshi had initiated disqualification proceedings against them but the same was stayed by the high court on July 24. An appeal by the speaker against the high court order is pending before the Supreme Court.
Pilot and other dissident MLAs have maintained that they never had the intention to leave the Congress party and were merely exercising their right to criticize the party leadership and the functioning of the chief minister.
Meanwhile, Madan Dilawar had moved the Rajasthan high court on July 28 seeking disqualification of the six former BSP MLAS on the ground of defection under 10th schedule of the Constitution.
The six MLAs, Lakhan Singh, Rajender Singh Guda, Deepchand, Joginder Singh Avana, Sandeep Kumar and Vajib Ali were elected to the Rajasthan assembly in December 2018 on BSP ticket. They later submitted a joint application to assembly speaker intimating the latter of their unanimous decision to merge with the Congress party on September 16, 2019. The request was approved by the speaker on September 18, 2019.
This was challenged by Dilawar who filed a plea before speaker in March 2020 for disqualification of the six MLAs on the ground of defection.
The 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India contains provisions relating to disqualification of lawmakers for defection. One of the grounds for disqualification as per paragraph 2 of the 10th schedule is voluntarily giving up membership of the political party on whose ticket the lawmaker was elected.
The speaker had rejected Dilawar’s plea on July 22 after which he approached the high court challenging the speaker’s decision. The high court issued notice to the speaker on July 30.
The petitioners submitted that as per paragraph 4 of the 10th schedule, when two-thirds of the members of a political party within the assembly merges with another political party in the assembly, then such members will be immune from disqualification. There is no requirement that the parent party, i.e. BSP merging with Congress at the national level so as to save the members of the party within the assembly from isqualification.
“The entire basis for the petition (by Dilawar) pending before the high court is that there has been no merger between the BSP and the Congress. It is submitted that the speaker of the legislature, while acting under Paragraph 4, is not concerned with the happenings outside the legislature, so long as two-thirds of the legislature party (i.e. members of a party within the assembly) has accepted the merger,” the petition said.
In the present case, the entire legislature party of the BSP merged with the legislature party of Congress, and therefore, the condition laid down in paragraph 4 is satisfied to not attract disqualification, the plea added.
It was also pointed out that this issue was pending before the top court in the case of Mithou Krose. That case is an appeal against a 2015 judgment of the Gauhati high court which had taken the view that the only requirement under paragraph 4 is of the merger of the legislature party and there is no requirement of the merger of the parent political party.
“There is an urgent need to clarify the law in respect to the scope of Paragraph 4 of the 10th schedule to ensure that there are no conflicting judgments,” the petitioners said seeking a transfer of the case to the apex court.