The Congress on Thursday said it is “constitutionally strange” that the Supreme Court is “interfering” with election process in Karnataka, after the Election Commission told the apex court that Assembly bypolls in 15 seats in the state would be deferred till pleas of disqualified MLAs are decided.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said an elected government in Karnataka was unseated by a group of “defectors” and were rightfully disqualified by the then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar in accordance with his jurisdiction under the Constitution.
"Until today, the Supreme Court has not stayed the order of the Speaker. That means, the order must be, on the face of it, correct. After all, if the order disqualifying the defectors, who were lured by money and muscle power, was wrong, then the Supreme Court would be right in staying it.
"Once, the order stands, these people stand disqualified and the process of reelection has to come in play. To defer an ongoing process of election is itself unprecedented," he told reporters.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission (EC) told the Supreme Court it would defer the upcoming bypolls on these 15 seats till the apex court finally decides the pleas filed by 17 MLAs who have challenged their disqualification.
The poll panel had last week announced bypolls to 15 Assembly seats in Karnataka and had said that voting would be held on October 21 and counting of votes on October 24.
The EC submitted this after a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said it would be “better” if the pleas of the disqualified MLAs were decided. Surjewala said the law laid down by the Supreme Court in last 70 years is that they will not interfere with the process of election.
“Now, the Supreme Court itself is interfering with the process of ongoing election as notified by (the) Election Commission. To me, it is constitutionally strange. But, the Supreme Court is right because they are final and there is no appeal beyond there,” the he said.
Congress leader K C Venugopal, however, said the decision of the Supreme Court to not interfere with election process is in the spirit of the Constitution.
“SC not only declined to grant stay to the disqualification, it decided to treat the merit of the matter independently. One wonders at the wisdom of Election Commission as it appears to have postponed the elections under instructions of the government to favour their agenda,” he said on Twitter.