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Dissent can’t be suppressed: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday said the “voice of dissent cannot be suppressed in a democracy” and declined to stay the Rajasthan High Court proceedings on the disqualification notices against 19 rebel Congress MLAs.

The Supreme Court also “whatever order is passed (by the high court) shall be ultimately subject to the outcome of this petition”.

Rajasthan Speaker P.C. Joshi, who had issued the notices to Sachin Pilot and 18 other rebels, had appealed against a high court directive restraining him from acting till Friday. He had sought a stay on the proceedings in the high court, which is due on Friday to pronounce on the dissidents’ challenge to Joshi’s notices.

While refusing Joshi’s plea, the Supreme Court bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Bhushan Gavai, and Krishna Murari asked whether elected representatives had the right to question their party.

“While remaining in the party can they not raise their voice? Else they will be disqualified? By that submission, party members cannot raise their own voice against their own party?” Justice Mishra asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was appearing for the Speaker.

“The voice of dissent cannot be suppressed in a democracy. After all, they all had been elected by the people. Can they not express their dissent? They ought to raise their voice within the party. The issue is, whether the voice of dissent can be shut down.”

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