Former BSP MLAs seek shifting of disqualification plea from HC to SC

Six MLAs, who were elected to Rajasthan assembly on BSP ticket and later joined Congress, on Saturday moved the Supreme Court questioning the high court entertaining a petition seeking their disqualification and seeking transfer of that plea to apex court.

The six MLAs, who together formed the BSP legislature party after December 2018 elections, merged with Congress legislature party and the merger was recognised by Rajasthan assembly speaker on September 18, 2019.

When 19 Congress MLAs led by Sachin Pilot rebelled against chief minister Ashok Gehlot and put the Congress party in a quandary in the state in the recent past, the BSP issued a whip to the six MLAs asking them not to support Congress on the floor of the House claiming that since the political party BSP has not merged with the political party Congress, the merger of BSP legislative party with that of Congress would not shield them from disqualification if they defied the whip.

Sensing opportunity to weaken the strength of Congress in the assembly, BJP MLA Madan Dilawar moved a petition before the speaker seeking disqualification of the six erstwhile BSP MLAs on the ground that there was no merger of the political parties and hence defiance of BSP whip would render them disqualified under the anti-defection provisions in Tenth Schedule.

The six MLAs through advocate Amit Pai said the moot question involved in the petition pending before the HC was whether merger of political parties was needed to avoid disqualification under paragraph four of Tenth Schedule and whether merger of legislative parties were enough.

They said that the Gauhati high court in 2014 in a case relating to Nagaland assembly had ruled that merger of legislative parties were enough to ward off disqualification under anti-defection law. This decision of the Gauhati HC was challenged in SC and is pending its consideration. They said the issue pending in Rajasthan HC was similar to the one pending SC’s consideration and hence it would be better to get the petition transferred to SC.

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