New Delhi: Congress leader Kapil Sibal has slammed the Rajasthan High Court’s ruling ordering “status quo” to be maintained in the disqualification case against MLA Sachin Pilot and his 18 fellow rebels. In an interview to ThePrint, Sibal has called the decision “totally illegal”.
“When the court says it will not allow the (disqualification) proceedings to go on, or when the court says it sticks to status quo, it is all violative of precedents set in court,” Sibal said.
Sibal, who moved the Supreme Court on behalf of Rajasthan assembly speaker C.P. Joshi Thursday, had argued that the high court’s decision to hear Pilot and Co’s plea against the disqualification notices goes against an apex court ruling of 1992.
Sibal cited the ruling of a 5-judge Constitution bench in the Kihoto Hollohan case, which prevented the interference of the court at a stage prior to the decision of the Speaker. The plea was rejected by the Supreme Court.
“So if courts don’t wish to follow the law, don’t give any reasons why the law should not be followed and are not bound by precedent, then I don’t know where democracy stands,” Sibal said.
‘Governor acting with political motive’
Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken had said Thursday that the party does not expect a favourable decision from the high court. “So, we prepare ourselves for a decision which is not in our favour,” Maken had said.
Sibal refused to comment on this, but said the expectation is always that the court will uphold the law. “But so far, that has not happened,” Sibal said.
On the criticism that the Congress jumped the gun by rushing to the Supreme Court, Sibal said they did so because the Pilot camp “cannot go to court before the decision of the speaker”.
“They cannot seek relief prior to the decision of the speaker. That is precisely what the 1992 judgment says. So this whole thing is unconstitutional,” Sibal said.
The Supreme Court advocate and former union minister said the courts can interfere only after the speaker’s decision, and that, too, only on four grounds — if the decision is mala fide, not following a constitutional mandate, perversity and violation of principles of natural justice.
Sibal also hit out at Rajasthan governor Kalraj Mishra for not allowing the assembly to convene, saying “nothing can be more shocking than that”.
“The governor is now acting with a political motive, he is playing politics in the state now. Governors are no longer acting as constitutional functionaries in obedience of the law,” Sibal said.
“If the government wants the house to be summoned, he has to summon but he is refusing to summon. How can a governor do that? When we talk about democracy, I wonder what it means to people sitting there,”he added.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot had also criticised Mishra earlier in the day for the same reason.