Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi on Monday withdrew his plea from Supreme Court against the High Court order asking him to defer his decision on disqualification notices issued to former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Rajasthan Speaker told the court that Speaker wants to withdraw his plea challenging the High Court jurisdiction to interfere in pending proceedings on disqualification petition against 19 rebel MLAs. A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Krishna Murari allowed the Speaker to withdraw the plea.

Sibal also told the Bench that due to lack of stay by the Supreme Court on the High Court’s July 21 order, the High Court has proceeded to pass a detailed order on July 24.

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The High Court order of July 21 has “merged” with the High Court subsequent order of July 24 and therefore this SLP against July 21 order of HC has become infructuous, added Sibal.

Sibal told the apex court that the Rajasthan High Court has passed a fresh order on July 24 which has raised several other issues including interpretation of the 10th schedule. “They have passed a 32-page order. We have to weigh our legal options on what to do next,” Sibal said.

The anti-defection law, enshrined in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, was inserted in 1985 to prevent such political defections. It lists two situations for disqualification on the ground of defection. Firstly, if an MP or an MLA “has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party” (clause 2(1)(a)). Secondly, if he votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by his party, that is if he violates the party whip in the House (clause 2(1)(b).

The Rajasthan High Court had on July 24 directed to maintain “status quo” on the disqualification proceeding against former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and 18 other MLAs of his camp pending before the State Assembly Speaker.

Earlier, Rajasthan High Court asked Assembly Speaker CP Joshi to defer the proceedings pending before him on the disqualification notices issued to Pilot and 18 MLAs of his faction and put off the verdict on the matter till July 24.

Joshi had approached the top court with an SLP against the interim order of the Rajasthan High Court, which had on Tuesday asked Speaker CP Joshi to defer the proceedings pending before him on the disqualification notices issued to Pilot and 18 MLAs, and put off the verdict on the matter till July 24.

On July 23, the Supreme Court held that the Rajasthan High Court can pass an order on former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and other MLAs’ plea against disqualification notice issued against them by the State Assembly Speaker.

The notices were issued to Pilot and 18 MLAs under the anti-defection law after the chief whip’s application for their disqualification. They were earlier asked to present before the Assembly Speaker on July 17, but the same was deferred in view of the hearing before the High Court.

The development had come as Rajasthan Congress is in turmoil after simmering differences between Pilot and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot came out in the open. Pilot was removed as the Deputy Chief Minister and the state unit chief of Congress.

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