Pilot & Co can argue case, but Speaker will decide | India News

NEW DELHI: The Rajasthan assembly Speaker, who entertained petitions seeking disqualification of Congress leader Sachin Pilot and 18 rebel MLAs, has ample powers under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and the Members of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on the Ground of Defection) Rules to return a verdict bolstering CM Ashok Gehlot’s grip over party MLAs.
The wide powers under the anti-defection law and the rules vested with Speakers and the discretion to act at supersonic speed or proceed slowly, in addition to the proceedings being quasi-judicial, makes the presiding officer’s role as a tribunal potent enough to spell doom for dissidents, as was found out by JD(U)’s Rajya Sabha MP Sharad Yadav in December 2017.
But given the SC’s recent decisions relating to Karnataka, Manipur and Tamil Nadu frowning at speakers acting either in a hurry or lethargically in deciding disqualification proceedings, Rajasthan Speaker C P Joshi would feel he has been judicious in deciding to give just three days to Pilot and his supporters to present their defence against the petition seeking their disqualification for anti-party activities.
JD(U)’s Ram Chandra Singh had filed a petition before Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on September 2, 2017, seeking Yadav’s disqualification for indulging in anti-party activities.
Referring to unimpeachable evidence of Yadav continuously criticising his party on public platforms and attending rallies organised by parties politically opposed to JD(U), the RS Chairman had disqualified the leader.
Pilot and Co have an opening as they can argue that they never joined hands with any party opposed to the Congress government and had not indulged in anti-party activities, except for protesting against certain events that they perceived to be inimical to their interests within the party.
Given the sweeping powers vested with the Speaker, they can’t be sure their argument about not indulging in anti-party activities would impress him. This, apart from the obvious political factors at work. The rebels can then move the Rajasthan HC or the Supreme Court challenging the Speaker’s notice to them questioning it on grounds of arbitrariness of the decision, inadequate grounds and the short time for response, which vitiates the principle of natural justice.

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