Disqualification of six rebel MLAs of the Congress Party from the Himachal Pradesh State Assembly, SC adjourns hearing till next week (Monday)

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Today, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court (SC) adjourned the hearing of the writ petition filed by six rebel MLAs of the Congress Party against their disqualification from the Himachal Pradesh State Assembly till next week (March 18, 2024, Monday). These MLAs challenged the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker’s decision who disqualified them for defying the party whip that was issued during the budget session. On February 29, 2024, the Speaker disqualified the six Congress MLAs named, Rajinder Singh Rana, Chaitanya Sharma, Inder Dutt Lakhanpal, Sudhir Sharma, Ravi Thakur, and Davinder Bhutto for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha polls. Today, the bench, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Dipankar Datta, and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, adjourned the matter and expressed its doubt over the maintainability of the writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution and asked the petitioners about which fundamental rights were violated. 

The matter was adjourned today at the request of the petitioners. Senior Advocate Satya Pal Jain appeared on behalf of the petitioners, and requested for adjournment stating that “We are being led by Mr. Harish Salve, he is unable to join.” Despite agreeing to defer the hearing till Monday, the bench asked “Tell us one thing: Why should you not go to the High Court? What is the fundamental right (violated)?” To this, SA Jain replied, “They were elected as per the provisions of the Constitution.” Justice Khanna responded, “That’s not a fundamental right.” SA Jain further argued, “It’s a rare case where within 18 hours they were disqualified by the Speaker.” Justice Khanna further noted, “Look, that is disputed by them. They have referred to certain emails and WhatsApp messages.” and ended the argument by saying “Alright, we’ll hear it on Monday.”