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Rajasthan crisis: Cannot issue whip for a party meeting says High Court

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Jaipur, July 20: The Rajasthan High Court said that a whip cannot be issued for a party meeting.

The observation came in the wake of the Congress submitting that disqualification notices were issued to Sachin Pilot and others for anti-party activity after they skipped two meetings of the Congress MLAs called by Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot.

Rajasthan crisis: HC to resume hearing on Pilot’s petition today

Pilot's team argued that such notices cannot be issued by the Speaker, when the assembly is not in session.

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The matter is being heard by a Bench comprising Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta. Appearing for the Speaker, senior advocate, Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that there is limited ground to challenge the Speaker's order in court.

There is limited ground to challenge the order of the Speaker. Moreover, the petition filed by Pilot is premature, he also said. The Speaker has the right to be wrong, Singhvi also said.

On Friday the court directed the Speaker not to act on the disqualification notices issued to Sachin Pilot and rebels till Tuesday.

Pilot, who was sacked as deputy chief minister of Rajasthan has said in his petition that dissatisfaction against the party's leadership cannot be a ground to make an MLA amenable for disqualification.

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He also speaks of freedom of speech and expression in his amended petition before the Rajasthan High Court.

Mere expression of dissatisfaction or even disillusionment against the party leadership cannot be treated to conduct falling within clause 2(1) (a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India. The petition also challenges the validity of the clause under the 10th Schedule, while stating that this provision can be so widely construed that the very same fundamental freedom of speech and expression of a member of the House is jeopardised.

While dealing with this in the past, several Supreme Court judgments have held that indulging in any anti-party activity tantamount to voluntarily giving up membership of the party, the petition also read.

The basis of the disqualification notices by the Speaker was expressions of dissent by some MLAs. It is necessary that the High Court examines the validity of the same under the 10th Schedule. Further Pilot has also sought for declaring 1(1) (a) of the 10th Schedule as ultra vires since it impinges upon the fundamental right of free speech.

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