[8/11, 20:54] Sekarreporter 1: Rajasthan BSP MLAs case: SC stalls hearing till Aug. 13: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rajasthan-bsp-mlas-case-sc-stalls-hearing-till-aug-13/article32325374.ece
[8/11, 20:54] Sekarreporter 1: After Bench learns that Rajasthan HC is scheduled to hear and decide BJP MLA’s plea today
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said in the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the move of its six Rajasthan legislators to ‘merge’ with the ruling Congress “wiped out” the party in the State.
[8/11, 20:56] Sekarreporter 1: One of the MLAs, represented by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, retorted that the BSP “had no control of their own party” in the State.
Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | Partial relief to Ashok Gehlot government in BSP MLAs case
[8/11, 20:56] Sekarreporter 1: The verbal sparring occurred in a hearing of a petition filed by BJP MLA Madan Dilawar against a Rajasthan High Court Division Bench order of August 6 refusing to immediately stay Assembly Speaker C.P. Joshi’s recognition of the “merger” of the six MLAs with the Congress. Mr. Dilawar maintained that the Speaker, instead of accepting the ‘merger’ on September 18 last, should have disqualified the MLAs for defection.
But a Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra stalled the hearing in the apex court till August 13. This was done after the Bench learnt that a Single Bench of the High Court was scheduled to hear and decide Mr. Dilawar’s plea on Tuesday (August 11).
“Let the High Court proceedings continue. Let the Single Bench hear the case today. All of you can argue your points in the case before the High Court today… We will list this petition before us on August 13,” Justice Mishra said.
Also read: Rajasthan crisis | BSP issues whip to 6 MLAs to vote against Congress
The Bench, however, allowed the six MLAs to withdraw their plea to transfer the case from High Court to the Supreme Court. They had separately approached the apex court to shift Mr. Dilawar’s case for their disqualification to the Supreme Court.
Shocking, says Salve
Senior advocate Harish Salve, for Mr. Dilawar, said Speaker Joshi, by recognising the ‘merger’, acted in a partisan manner when he was not supposed to take sides. “He had to conduct himself as a tribunal… This is shocking”, he submitted.
Also read: Rajasthan political crisis | High Court sends notices to Speaker, 6 BSP MLAs who joined Congress
The BSP, represented by senior advocate S.C. Misra, joined cause with the BJP leader to berate the conduct of the six MLAs.
It said that for a merger to escape the guillotine of the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution, there has to be a split of the original party at the national or State (if it is a regional party) levels. Then the merger, by no less than two-thirds members, should happen between parties at the national or State levels again.
“The Speaker has no jurisdiction to recognise a merger. A merger has to happen at the national level and then down at the legislative level. First comes the merger of the political party and then the legislative party… Now the six MLAs are functioning like Congress MLAs”, Mr. Misra argued. “They have wiped out my party”, he said.
In response, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for one of the six legislators, said, “They had no control over their own party”.
Sibal cites Goa
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for another one of the six MLAs, said there was no such complaints made when all the Congress legislators in Goa had ‘merged’ with the ruling BJP in the State.
In his petition before the Supreme Court, Mr. Dilawar contended that the High Court issued notices to the BSP MLAs rather than stay the Speaker’s decision accepting the merger.
Mr. Joshi had dismissed a complaint filed by Mr. Dilawar for disqualification of the six MLAs. The latter had accused them of voluntarily relinquishing their BSP membership to “defect” to the Congress. The move fell flat when the Speaker dismissed it for non-compliance of the Rajasthan Legislative Members (Disqualification on the ground of defection) Rules of 1989.
In their transfer plea, the MLAs, led by Mr. Lakhan Singh, argued that a merger of two legislative parties in the House was protected under Paragraph 4(2) of the Tenth Schedule.
No defection, say MLAs
According to Paragraph 4(2), a merger is not defection if two-thirds of the members of the legislature party has agreed to it. The MLAs said the BSP’s legislature party were a total of six in the Rajasthan Assembly and all of them had agreed to the move. Hence, there was no defection.
“All the six persons, being the entire Legislative Party of the BSP merged with the Legislature Party of the Indian National Congress (INC), and the same came to be recognised by the Order of the Hon’ble Speaker of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly on September 18, 2019”, they said.s