Plea challenging BSP-Congress merger in Rajasthan: Not appropriate to hear case at this stage, says SC

In September last year, Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly CP Joshi had accepted the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress party. The SC on Thursday refused to pass any interim orders

Supreme Court of India (File photo)
Supreme Court of India (File photo)

NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to pass any interim orders in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Madan Dilawar's petition seeking a stay on the Rajasthan Speaker's order allowing the merger of six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs with the Congress.

The matter was heard by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari. The Bench took note that the challenge to Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi's order was part heard by a Single Judge Bench of the Rajasthan High Court.

Deeming it "not appropriate" to interfere in the matter at this stage, the Supreme Court refused to pass any interim orders, despite insistence from counsel representing both Dilawar and the BSP.

Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, representing the Rajasthan Speaker today, told the Bench that it is was unheard of and legally untenable for the Supreme Court to hear a case which was being heard by a High Court, and when no notice has been issued by the Apex Court.

The Bench said that it would not pass any orders without first hearing Senior Counsel Harish Salve, representing Dilawar. Salve stressed on the urgency involved in the case, highlighting that the Assembly session in Rajasthan is scheduled to be convened tomorrow. If the Speaker's

order is not stayed, then the continued operation of the merger will affect the proceedings to the extent of whip issued by parties, he argued.

Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhavan, however, said that there was no urgency, adding that a whip is issued when there is an agenda before the Assembly. Presently, Dhavan said, there is no agenda on the bulletin for tomorrow. The political route, should they wish to take it, is for the opposition to move a no-confidence motion, he added.

Sibal agreed, submitting that the judgment of the High Court can be appealed against. Salve, seeing reason in Sibal's submission, prayed for the matter to be kept open.

The court thus agreed to hear the case on Monday, August 17, and refused to pass any interim order.

Earlier, the court had adjourned the hearing in the case in light of the impending proceedings before a Single Judge Bench of the Rajasthan High Court, where the order passed by the Rajasthan Speaker is under challenge.

In September last year, Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly CP Joshi had accepted the merger of six BSP MLAs with the Congress party. This move subsequently came to be challenged before the High Court by BJP MLA Madan Dilawar and the BSP. A Single Judge Bench, while issuing notice to the Speaker in the petitions, had directed for a reply to be given by August 11.

The order of the Speaker, however, was not stayed by the Single Judge Bench, and the six BSP MLAs were not restrained from attending the proceedings of the House as Congress legislators.

This decision was appealed against before the Division Bench, which had also refused to stay the Speaker's decision, allowing the functioning of the BSP MLAs as Congress members. The matter was subsequently remitted to the Single Judge. Aggrieved by this order, the petitioners approached the Supreme Court.

It is the case of the petitioners before the Supreme Court that the merger of the six BSP MLAs with the Congress is bad in law and unconstitutional as it goes against the principles laid down in various cases.

In a subsequent development, the six BSP MLAs had also moved the Supreme Court seeking a transfer of Dilawar's petition from the Rajasthan High Court to the Supreme Court on the ground that similar matters are pending before the Apex Court. However, this transfer petition was withdrawn in the previous hearing.

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