Rebels gets reprieve, Karnataka Speaker reserves order

Bopaiah, who heard counsels of both sides for more than three hours, reserved his orders, legislature sources said. Apparently going by a directive from Governor H R Bhardwaj not to change the character or configuration of the House in the run-up to the trust vote, Bopaiah wound up the two-day hearing on the plea and decided to reserve his orders.

On October 7, a day after 19 MLAs, including 14 ruling party men submitted a letter to Bhardwaj declaring withdrawal of support to the government, Yeddyurappa petitioned the Speaker seeking disqualification of 11 MLAs, as three rebels retracted their earlier action.

Government counsel Satyapal Jain informed the Speaker that disqualification proceedings sought against Excise Minister M P Renukacharya and Narasimha Naik, MLA from Surpur constituency have been withdrawn.

Talking to media, he termed the letter written by the Governor to the Speaker as "unconstitutional and derogatory, amounting to intervention in the legislature proceedings". However, counsel for rebels, K V Raghavan disagreed and said the Governor was well within his constitutional powers to send such an advisory.

Jain said that in the petition they had also demanded disqualification of the five independent MLAs, stating that independents could not join any political party and since the five had done so, they should be disqualified.

He said the anti-defection law had been framed with a view to curb defection and not encourage it. The act of the BJP MLAs submitting letters to the Governor and voluntarily withdrawing from the party amounted to defection.

He further contended that the MLAs should have resigned from the party and contested fresh elections if they were unhappy with the leadership and the BJP. K G Raghavan, who appeared for the dissidents, said the BJP rebels had opposed the party leadership and demanded a change and were not against the party.

The counsel also pleaded that the rebels had not joined any party. He pointed out that the BJP MLAs whose disqualification had been sought had not been given the seven-day period to reply to the notice.

He said the Governor had issued a reminder to the Speaker and had done so to ensure "fair play" and was well within his rights to do so.

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