In another respite for rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot and his supporting MLAs, the Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday asked the Assembly Speaker not to take any action against them till Friday when it will deliver its order on their petition.
Completing the hearing on the writ petition filed by Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs against notice issued to them by the Speaker asking why they should not be disqualified from the Assembly, the division bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta, of the court's Jaipur bench, reserved its order till July 24.
Court brings relief to Sachin Pilot
"Having heard learned counsel for the respective parties and taking on record the submissions advanced on behalf of the respective parties as noted above, we direct that matter shall be listed on July 24 for passing of necessary orders," the court said.
It also asked the Speaker, who had extended the period for Pilot and the other MLAs to file their response till 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday, to further extend this period till the delivery of its order on Friday.
The Pilot camp was represented by two of India's top lawyers -- Mukul Rohatgi, a former Attorney General, and Harish Salve, a former Solicitor General, while the Rajasthan Speaker was represented by senior counsel and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi
In his arguments on Tuesday, Rohatgi said: "The Assembly Speaker gave only three days time for legislators to respond, however, a time of seven days should have been given to them. Why were they (the ruling party) in such a hurry?"
Singhvi, on Monday, had told the court that the Speaker "has just given notice, not disqualified the MLAs". "The Speaker's order can be challenged only on limited grounds, so there is no basis to the petition filed by the Pilot faction," he contended.
The Pilot camp had on last Thursday filed a petition against a notice served to them by the Speaker on a plea by the Congress for their disqualification.
The rebels had moved the court, arguing that "free speech" cannot be labelled as "anti-party activity" and that they can't be served such notices when the Rajasthan Assembly is not in session.
Questioning the validity and correctness of the notice issued by the Speaker, they termed as "motivated" the complaint on behalf of Mahesh Joshi, the Chief Whip of the Congress in the assembly.
However, the hearing on Thursday was deferred within 15 minutes as the Pilot camp wanted to amend their plea and the matter was transferred to the division bench at 5 pm. The matter was, subsequently, deferred till Friday.
The hearing started at 1 p.m. on Friday and lasted till around 4.30 p.m. Thereafter, the court adjourned the matter to Monday and asked the Speaker not take any action on the notice till 5 p.m. on Tuesday.