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SC Relief for Gehlot in MLAs Merger Case Ahead of Assembly Session, HC to Resume Hearing Tomorrow

File photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

File photo of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

The Supreme Court, which was hearing a petition of a BJP MLA for a temporary freeze on the merger, refused to allow it and left the decision to a single judge in Rajasthan, which is hearing the matter.

In a major relief for Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, six Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs who had merged with the Congress would be able to take part in the trust vote likely to be held in the Assembly on Friday.

The Supreme Court, which was hearing a petition of BJP MLA Madan Dilawar for a temporary freeze on the merger, refused to allow it and left the decision to a single judge in Rajasthan, which is hearing the matter.

The plea had sought an urgent hearing by the apex court to take a call on the matter in view of the beginning of the Assembly session.

However, the SC said it will not interfere in the case as the high court is already hearing the matter, adding that it will take up the case on Monday after the HC decides on it.

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The BJP has said it would move a no-confidence motion against the Gehlot government in the state assembly on Friday.

The high court, meanwhile, posted for hearing on Friday the petitions filed by Dilawar and the BSP challenging the merger of the six MLAs with the Congress.

After hearing arguments, Justice Mahendra Kumar Goyal posted the matter for next hearing on Friday as a half day was observed in the court.

The Rajasthan assembly speaker's counsel Kapil Sibal argued that the BSP must approach the speaker first. In case, he does not pass any order, then the BSP may approach the court for a direction to the speaker for deciding their application.

He said the BSP's writ petition bypasses the available remedy. Sibal contended that he has no problem if the BSP and the BJP are directed to approach the speaker for a proper order.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who represented one of the six MLAs, also started his arguments but hearing remained inconclusive owing to paucity of time. The matter will now be heard on Friday.

The petitioners have challenged the merger of the six MLAs- Sandeep Yadav, Wajib Ali, Deepchand Kheria, Lakhan Meena, Jogendra Awana and Rajendra Gudha-with the Congress and demanded a stay on the execution of the order passed by the speaker in this regard.

They contested and won the 2018 assembly elections on BSP tickets. All of them defected to the Congress in September 2019.

The MLAs submitted an application for merger on September 16, 2019 and the speaker issued an order on September 18, 2019. Dilawar challenged the merger and filed a petition before the speaker in March this year which was rejected on July 24.

Dilawar challenged the decision of the speaker in the high court and demanded a stay on the merger. Similarly, the BSP filed a separate petition against the merger.

The single-judge bench of the high court on July 30 issued notices to the speaker and secretary of the assembly, and the six MLAs but did not give a stay on the merger against which Dilawar approached the division bench with an appeal. The division bench disposed of the appeal and directed the single-judge bench to decide the matter.

The merger of BSP MLAs with the ruling Congress was a boost to the Ashok Gehlot-led government in the state as the tally of the Congress increased to 107 in the house of 200.

(With inputs from PTI)