"I am dismayed at the tone and contents of the letter received today from you, which tantamounts to serious interference in discharge of judicial functions as a constitutional authority", Speaker K G Bopaiah said in his reply just hours after Bharadwaj dashed off a letter to him asking him to maintain status quo in the "configuration" of the Assembly.
However, counsel for rebels K V Raghavan disagreed and said the Governor was well within his constitutional powers to send such an advisory. In the letter to Bhardwaj, Bopaiah asked the governor to maintain impartiality in the dispute between the two rival political parties, Sources in Legislature secretariat said.
Bopaiah had also asked Bhardwaj to maintain "impartiality in the dispute between two rival political parties and uphold the high traditions of the office of the Governor". "I will maintain absolute impartiality without being dictated by any authority about discharge of my function as Speaker", he said, obviously responding to Bhardwaj's suggestion that he conduct the proceedings in an impartial manner.
BJP accused Bhardwaj of being a "willing partner" in the opposition move to destabilise its Government and charged him with acting at the behest of the Congress. Taking strong exception to the Governor's 'threatening letter' to Bopaiah, senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said he was shocked to know Bhardwaj "stooping down to the level of a politician".
Bhardwaj's letter has totally exposed the Governor who, he alleged, is acting at the behest of the Congress party. "And he has become now a willing partner for the destabilisation move in the State", Naidu said. "Governor is supposed to be the custodian of the constitution;he has to act as a guide. (But) he is openly encouraging destabilisation.'
The BJP leader stressed that the Governor has "no business" to interfere in the functioning of the Speaker. "He (the Governor) is suggesting to the Speaker how to conduct himself".
Satyapal Jain, government counsel termed the letter written by the Governor as "unconstitutional and derogratory, amounting to intervention in the legislature proceedings". Rajya Sabha member and former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court M Rama Jois said the directive of the Governor is without jurisdiction and not binding.
"It is surprising Bhardwaj has issued a directive to the Speaker to maintain the list of legislators as it stood on October six on which day the 19 legislators who were part of the Government gave a letter to the Governor withdrawing their support to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa’s Government."
"There is no such power vested in the Governor. Therefore, his directive is non-est and ab-initio void", the BJP leader, also a former governor of Jharkhand and Bihar said.
Jois said the directive is also in plain violation of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Rajendra Singh Rana and Ors. Vs. Swami Prasad Maurya and Ors.
Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee was also critical of the Governor's action terming it as an "interference" in the exercise of judicial functions.
"The Speaker is a constitutional authority and he exercises judicial functions when determining whether to suspend the MLAs or disqualify them.
"Now if there is anything in the letter which suggests what he should do, what he should not do...I think that would amount to interference in the exercise of judicial functions of the constitutional authority," he said.