The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the disqualification of 17 Karnataka rebel MLAs before the trust vote moved by the previous HD Kumaraswamy government. The rebel Congress-JDS MLAs were disqualified by the then Speaker of the Legislative Assembly KR Ramesh Kumar.
Kumaraswamy had resigned after losing a trust vote, which paved the way for the BJP-led government in the state under BS Yediyurappa.
A bench of Justices V Ramana, Krishna Murari and Sanjiv Khanna, after three days of continuous hearing, asked the counsels to submit documents related with the matter.
A battery of senior advocates – like Kapil Sibal, Devadatta Kamat Rajeev Dhavan, and K Shashi Kiran Shetty - represented Congress and JDS parties. Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, V V Giri, KV Vishwanathan, AK Ganguli, C A Sundaram appeared for the MLAs.
Earlier on Thursday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing current Assembly Speaker, told the top court that the new Speaker is willing to examine the matter. However, the rebel MLAs contended that the previous Speaker Ramesh Kumar was wrong in not accepting their resignation and later disqualifying them. This disqualification stripped the lawmakers of their membership and also proved to be a hurdle in contesting elections again.
These MLAs contended that the Speaker overreached the mandate under the Constitution while taking a decision on their resignation. And then disqualified them against the law and the directions given by the top court.
"This matter involves a substantial question of law... we are in politics....and, we know who is going where and what is happening," contended Sibal insisting that the MLAs were to bring down the government. Sibal submitted that the Speaker was supposed to look if the resignations were genuine and voluntary.
The bench queried him, "You mean the MLAs can't resign and join the other party? How is it that the disqualification is extended till the term of Assembly."
To this, Sibal replied that what happened, inside the House, was a constitutional sin, and the Speaker has to act when somebody is willing to bring down the government.
The bench said, "the Speaker is constitutional authority and he is supposed to be neutral. The proceedings has to be as per the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution".
With Agency Inputs