Sachin Pilot’s disqualification notice and the constitutional validity of clause 2(1)(a) of the Anti defection laws

A petition filed by Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot, along with 19 other MLAs of the Indian National Congress Party, was heard on 17th June. The division bench of Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice Prakash Gupta have decided to hear the case on 20th June.

The petition was filed against the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly who had issued a notice disqualifying 19 of the party members. The disqualification notice is consequent to the absence of the members at the Legislative meeting that was  directed by INC party chief whip, Dr Mahesh Joshi. It is asserted by the petitioners that their absence does not lead to voluntarily giving up of the party membership.

Initially the petition was filed challenging the notice, but the applicants’ later requested to amend their writ petition. The request was approved by Justice Satish Chandra Sharma on June 16th and the subject matter of the petition was modified to ‘challenge the constitutionality of clause 2(1)(a) of the anti-defection laws contained in the tenth schedule with regard to it being violative of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.’

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, representing the petitioners contended that the assumption that dissent and unhappiness among the party members leads to  their disqualification is both violative of fundamental rights and the principle of democracy amongst parties. The advocates appearing for the respondents have reserved their arguments for the next hearing. The speaker shall not take any action until after the hearings.

Prithviraj Meena & Ors. V. The Hon’ble speaker, Rajasthan
Civil Writ Pet. No. 7450 of 2020 

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