The political drama being played out in Rajasthan shifted its location to Rajasthan High Court (RHC) on Thursday. A petition was filed by Sachin Pilot and other 18 dissident MLAs at the Jaipur bench of the RHC challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the Speaker of the State Asssembly. The matter will come up for hearing before a double bench at 1 pm on Friday.
Renowned advocates represented the two factions. Harish Salve and Mukul Rohtagi represented the Pilot camp while Abhishek Manu Singhvi and advocate general Mahendra Singh Singhvi appeared on behalf of the Government.
The petition first said the anti-defection law could not be invoked against them as the notice was issued for meetings that were outside the assembly.
The petition was filed by the Pilot camp earlier in the day and the government moved in to file a caveat. The petition came up for hearing before Justice Satish Chandra Sharma at 3pm. But advocate Harish Salve sought time to file a revised petition. The government also sought that DB court hear the case. Chief whip in Rajasthan Assembly Mahesh Joshi sought to be made party in the case as the notices had been issued by the Speaker on the basis of his complaint.
The matter was heard again around 5 pm when the judge referred it to a division bench where it will come for hearing at 1 pm on Friday. As the MLAs had to also respond to the notice by 1 pm, the Speaker has assured the court no action would be taken against the MLAs till 5pm on Friday.
Speaker Dr CP Joshi had issued notices to the 19 MLAs after the party sought that they be disqualified from the state assembly. The notices were issued for defying whip and not attending legislature party meetings.
If the MLAs are disqualified then the majority mark in the 200 member state assembly will also drop, thereby making it easier for chief minister Ashok Gehlot to have the numbers to win a floor test.
Nineteen MLAs who have been issued notices and filed the petition are Prithviraj Meena, Ved Prakash Solanki, Suresh Modi, Vishvendra Singh, Deependra Singh, Sachin Pilot, Bhanwarlal Sharma, Gajrah Khatana, Indraj Gurjar, Gajendra Singh Shaktawat, Hema Ram Choudhary, Ram Niwas Gawariya, Amar Singh, Brijendra Singh Ola, Murari Lal Meena, Mukesh Bhakar, Rakesh Parekh, Harish Meena and Ramesh Meena.
Security was heightened for 15 MLAs supporting CM Ashok Gehlot whose seats fall under the Gurjar-dominated areas. Security was also stepped up for Joginder Awana, an MLA from Nadbai seat. The move came after a threat to his life.