The Supreme Court of India. (Image: PTI)
The apex court was hearing separate petitions filed by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and BJP MLA Madan Dilawar against the August 24 last year order passed by the Rajasthan High Court.
- Last Updated: January 07, 2021, 20:52 IST
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The Supreme Court Thursday sought responses from the Rajasthan Assembly Speaker and others on two separate petitions against the merger of six BSP MLAs into the ruling Congress legislature party in the state in September 2019. The apex court was hearing separate petitions filed by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and BJP MLA Madan Dilawar against the August 24 last year order passed by the Rajasthan High Court.
The high court had dismissed BSP’s petition against the September 18, 2019 order passed by the Assembly Speaker approving the merger. It had however given liberty to the BSP to file a disqualification petition with the Speaker raising plea of defection of the six MLAs. The high court, while dealing with the plea filed by Dilawar, had asked the Speaker to decide within three months the disqualification petition filed by the BJP MLA against the merger.
The merger was a boost to Ashok Gehlot-led state government as the tally of the Congress increased to over 100 in the House of 200 MLAs. The pleas filed by BSP and Dilawar against the high court’s order came up for hearing on Thursday before a bench comprising Justices S A Nazeer and K M Joseph.
We will issue notice, the bench said while seeking responses, including from the Assembly secretary as well as the six MLAs. Senior advocate Satish Chandra Mishra, appearing for BSP, referred to the Assembly Speaker’s order and said that nothing would be left to be decided in disqualification proceedings now.
At the outset, the bench asked Mishra, Why are you not going before the division bench of the high court?. Mishra referred to the sequence of events in the matter, including the order passed by the Assembly speaker and the proceedings before the high court.
In its plea, the BSP has said that the high court had dismissed its petition holding the September 18, 2019 order passed by the speaker to be an administrative order and not an order adjudicating the claim of merger under paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule. Tenth Schedule of the Constitution deals with provisions as to disqualification on ground of defection.
Subsequent to the formation of government under the chief ministership of Ashok Gehlot, the Congress Party started resorting to undemocratic, unethical, illegal and unconstitutional means to allure the MLAs belonging to BSP to defect from BSP, their original political party, and join Congress Party, the BSP has alleged in its plea filed in the apex court. Consequently, the respondent nos. 3 to 8 (six MLAs) had secretly made a joint application before the Speaker, Rajasthan State Legislative Assembly, on September 16, 2019 claiming that the Bahujan Samaj Party had merged with Indian National Congress and that they have also decided to merge into Indian National Congress, it said, adding that the speaker accepted their claim and permitted them to be members of Congress.
It claimed that the speaker proceeded to pass the aforesaid order dated September 18, 2019 approving the merger in a most arbitrary manner, without even issuing any notice or granting any opportunity of hearing to the petitioner herein/Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is the original political party’ in terms of Para 4 of the Tenth Schedule and the affected party. It alleged that the high court had failed to consider that these six MLAs had moved the September 16, 2019 application claiming merger of the BSP with the Congress in a most secret and clandestine manner pursuant to the allurements made by Congress Party. It said finding recorded by the speaker in his September 18, 2019 order has adversely affected the rights of BSP to seek disqualification of these MLAs.
Dilawar had filed a petition in the high court challenging the merger of six MLAs – Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha – with the Congress and had demanded a stay on the execution of the order passed by the Speaker. The top court had on the same day disposed of as ‘infructuous’ Dilawar’s plea seeking stay on the Rajasthan speaker’s decision allowing the MLAs to merge with the Congress after the high court had passed its order on the same issue. The MLAs had contested and won the 2018 Assembly elections on BSP tickets but later merged with the Congress party in September 2019.