SC reserves order on disqualified State MLAs' plea

A Bench of Justices Altmas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph concluded the hearing on the two special leave petitions filed by the disqualified legislators. The court, however, allowed the parties to file their written submission within two days.

The five independent MLAs—M P Narendraswamy, Shivaraj Tangadi, Venkataramanappa, D Sudhakar and Goolihatti Shekar—were disqualified in October last year after they submitted a letter to the Governor withdrawing their support to B S Yeddyuruppa government.

In their two separate petitions, they alleged that their disqualification by speaker K G Bopaiah on the ground of defection under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution was “illegal and without jurisdiction”.

“It is submitted that independent members by joining the Council of Ministers, without joining the ruling political party could never result in the becoming of the members of the political party,” they contended. The respondents including the Speaker, the chief minister and two voters claimed that the legislators had opened themselves to disqualification with their acts of participating in the cabinet meeting and joining the government.

“They (five MLAs) were all ministers in the BJP government and were adhering to the BJP whip. They were attending the BJP legislature party meeting. They were following the policy of the BJP and were part of the Yeddyurappa government,’’ senior advocates Soli Sorabjee and Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the chief whip and the deputy chief whip of the BJP, said.

The Speaker of the State Assembly thus came to a conclusion that they were BJP members and they would disqualify their seats if they leave the party, they contended. Two voters, who had lodged complaints with Speaker against the Independent legislatures, argued that the legislators by joining the cabinet made themselves “ipso facto” liable for disqualification.

They also argued that independents would have to seek fresh mandate if they decide to join the cabinet since they lose their status of “independent” by joining the government.

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