Rajasthan political crisis has once again taken an interesting turn. The Assembly speaker C. P. Joshi moved to Supreme Court against the High Court’s order to defer the disqualification of rebel Congress MLAs till 24th July. The SC in response rejected his plea and adjourned the hearing till Monday, 27th July.
Earlier, Rajasthan’s former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot had moved to HC with 18 other rebel MLAs who had decided to leave INC against their disqualification. After that, Pilot was suspended from the post of Deputy CM. The HC “directed” the Speaker to defer the disqualification till 24th July, against which Joshi had filed a plea in SC.
In his plea Joshi referred to the provisions of the Tenth Schedule and the landmark judgment of Kihoto Hollohan Vs Zachillhu and Others (1992). The judgment said that the courts can not intervene in the powers of the Speaker.
What does the Tenth Schedule say?
The Tenth Schedule, also known as the Anti-Defection law, was added in the constitution in 1985 through Constitution (Fifty Second Amendment) ACT, 1985. It gives the power to the Speaker of the House to disqualify a member if he/she decides to stand against the party.
“A member of a House belonging to any political party shall be disqualified from being a member of the House… if he has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party; or if he votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by the political party… without obtaining… prior permission…” states the Tenth Schedule.
What was Kihoto Hollohan Case?
In 1992, the Tenth Schedule was challenged and SC had given its verdict supporting the powers of the Speaker as per Tenth Schedule. the main question was about the authority of the Speaker.
The majority judgment of the case authored by Justices M N Venkatachiliah and K Jayachandra Reddy stated “The Speakers/Chairmen hold a pivotal position in the scheme of Parliamentary democracy and are guardians of the rights and privileges of the House. They are expected to and do take far reaching decisions in the Parliamentary democracy. Vestiture of power to adjudicate questions under the Tenth Schedule in them should not be considered exceptionable.”
On Thursday, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Rajasthan Speaker said, “The court cannot direct the speaker to extend time for disqualification proceedings. It’s not the jurisdiction of the High Court.”
The case is being heard by a SC bench led by Justice Arun Mishra. The matter will be heard again on Monday, 27th July.