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Supreme Court defers hearing on plea against merger of 6 BSP MLAs with Congress in Rajasthan

SC defers hearing in plea against BSP-Congress merger in Rajasthan.

The Supreme Court on Monday deferred to August 24 the hearing on a plea of a BJP MLA seeking a stay on the Rajasthan Speaker’s decision that had allowed six BSP MLAs to merge with the Congress.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, in a hearing conducted through video conferencing, was apprised of the fact the Rajasthan High Court, which has been hearing the politically sensitive dispute, has been closed till Wednesday. It has been reported that the Chief Justice of the High Court has tested positive for COVID-19 and the functioning of the HC has been postponed till August 19.

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The bench, which also comprised Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, took note of the submissions of lawyer Sunil Fernandes that the High Court had started dictating its order in the dispute on Friday but it could not be completed. The top court then decided to adjourn the hearing on the plea of BJP MLA Madan Dilawar for hearing on the issue to August 24.

Earlier, the top court had refused to pass any interim order on the plea of the BJP MLA after it was told that the High Court has been dealing with the case. The BJP lawmaker has said that these six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs have been wrongly allowed by the assembly speaker to merge with the ruling Congres party. Dilawar has challenged the high court’s order which had refused to stay the functioning of these six MLAs as Congress legislators.

Earlier, the apex court had allowed the withdrawal of a petition filed by six Rajasthan MLAs seeking transfer of the plea pending against them in the high court to the apex court. Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Dilawar, had said that the matter can go on before the high court but the issue is what is to be done in the meantime.

Salve, while referring to the September last year order of merger passed by the Speaker, had said there is a curious situation as the BSP is saying that they have not merged. He had said that the apex court should stay the Speaker’s order of September last year.

Senior advocate SC Mishra, appearing for BSP, had said the six MLAs had gone to the speaker saying they want to merge and the Speaker “straight away” passed order of merger. He had said in the Rajasthan assembly also, these MLAs are not following the whip of BSP and moreover, BSP is a national party and split, if any, has to be at the national level.

Dilawar has challenged in the apex court the August 6 order of a division bench of high court which had disposed of his plea against the order of a single judge, who had refused to stay the functioning of these six MLAs as Congress legislators. The single judge of the high court had earlier not granted any interim relief and refused to put a stay on the participation of six MLAs in the proceedings of the House as Congress legislators.

On July 30, the high court had sought response of the Assembly Speaker and its secretary on the pleas challenging the induction of the six MLAs into the Congress.

Two petitions have been filed in the high court, one by Dilawar and the other by BSP National Secretary S C Mishra.

Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha contested and won the 2018 assembly election on a BSP ticket but they defected to Congress in September 2019. They had submitted an application for the merger on September 16 last year and the Speaker allowed their induction into the Congress two days later. The merger was a boost to the Ashok Gehlot-led government as the tally of the Congress increased to 107 in the house of 200.

Dilawar has challenged the merger of the BSP MLAs into Congress, questioning Assembly Speaker CP Joshi’s order dismissing his complaint without allowing him to have his say. Mishra has challenged in the high court the defection of the MLAs, but these legislators had not sought transfer of his plea to the Supreme Court.

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