In BJP or not? Hearing on disqualified MLAs gathers momentum

In BJP or not? Hearing on disqualified MLAs gathers momentum

Counsel for these MLAs submitted before the full bench of the Karnataka High Court that their status was shown as independents in the Legislative Assembly Secretariat records as recently as September 3 last year.

P M Narendraswamy, Gulihatti D Shekhar, D Sudhakar, Shivaraj S Thangadagi and Venkataramanappa were disqualified on October 10, a day before the vote of confidence taken by the B S Yeddyurappa government, which he won.

Days earlier, the five, along with 11 BJP rebel MLAs, had withdrawn support to the Yeddyurappa government.

Before the bench comprising Justices Mohan Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer and A S Bopanna, their counsel argued that there was no material evidence before Speaker K G Bopaiah to prove that they had joined BJP.

Counsel K G Raghavan termed as "matter of conjectures and surmises" the assumption that by participating in political functions they have joined BJP. "It is important to ascertain the date on which they have joined," he said, stressing that such an act had never been committed.

Satya Pal Jain, counsel for two MLAs, C T Ravi and D N Jeevaraj, on whose petitions, along with those filed by one voter each from five Assembly constituencies represented by the Independents, the five were disqualified by the Speaker, sought to argue that they have joined the BJP by their conduct.

He pointed out to the five MLAs attending legislature party meetings, being issued whip by BJP and received by them and their becoming ministers, adding, inference need to be drawn from their conduct.

Jain submitted that while they charged the Yeddyurappa government with corruption, nepotism and favouritism, in their letter to Governor H R Bhardwaj withdrawing support to the Government, they did not cite a single allegation in their petitions.

The five colluding with the 11 BJP rebel MLAs had tried to topple the Government and form an alternative government with the opposition, Jain alleged.

Earlier, P P Rao, senior counsel for five MLAs, argued that the Speaker did not follow disqualification rules and also did not give sufficient time for them to file reply to show-cause notices.

He described the disqualification as "blatant misuse of power by the Speaker and the Chief Minister to save the Government" and prayed for setting aside Bopaiah's order as "void".

Raghavan noted that the Speaker passed the order within three days of the petitions being filed seeking their disqualification. "It's a covert attempt to save the government," he contended.

The hearing was adjourned for tomorrow.

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