Five disqualified MLAs had lost independent character, HC told

During the final hearing on petitions filed by five disqualified MLAs elected as independents, challenging the Speaker's order, counsel Satya Pal Jain submitted that they had received whips and acted according to them.

He argued that before they were disqualified, "nowhere have they said that they are independents" in the past two-and-half-years during which they had also never disputed that they have joined the BJP.
The case was adjourned for further hearing tomorrow.
P M Narendraswamy, Gulihatti D Shekhar, D Sudhakar, Shivaraj S Thangadagi and Venkataramanappa were disqualified by Speaker K G Bopaiah on October 10, a day before the vote of confidence was 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Days earlier, the five, along with 11 BJP rebel MLAs, had withdrawn support to the Chief Minister by submitting a letter to Governor H R Bhardwaj.

The Speaker had passed the composite order on separate writ petitions filed by two BJP MLAs C T Ravi and D N Jeevaraj, who is also the Chief Whip of the BJP legislature party, and one voter each from five Assembly constituencies represented by these five MLAs elected as independents, seeking their disqualification.

Another senior counsel, P S Narasimha, today argued before the bench, comprising Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice A S Bopanna, that "constitution rests the whole discretion on Speaker".

"Court must only see if the legislators (the disqualified MLAs) were prejudiced. In this case, ample opportunity was given to the respondents (the MLAs)", he submitted.

Counsel for the voters argued that the voters had the right to file petitions before the Speaker seeking disqualification of their MLAs.

Counsel for the five disqualified MLAs had earlier argued that they had never joined the BJP as they prayed for setting aside the Speaker's disqualification order.

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