SC lifts disqualification of 11 BJP, 5 Independent legislators

Setback to BSY and Speaker Bopaiah

SC lifts disqualification of 11 BJP, 5 Independent legislators

In a strong indictment of Speaker K G Bopiah’s action, a bench of Justices Altmas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph said the disqualification was undertaken in “ a hurry” without giving the MLAs enough time to explain.

“Extraneous considerations are writ large on the face of the order of the Speaker and the same has to be set aside,” the court said.

“We are constrained to hold that the proceedings conducted by the Speaker on the disqualification application filed by Yeddyurappa do not meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play,” it said.

The Speaker disqualified the MLAs on October 10 and the Yeddyurappa government was able to prove its majority on the confidence vote the next day. “Unless it was to ensure that the trust vote did not go against the chief minister, there was no conceivable reason for the Speaker to have taken up the disqualification application in such a great hurry,” the Bench said.

The court also noted that the MLAs were disqualified on the application made by Yeddyurappa, containing “bald” allegations and newspaper cutti­ngs without any corroboration from direct evidence.

The 11 MLAs wrote identical letters to the governor on October 6, 2010, indicating that they had been elected on Bharatiya Janata Party ticket, but had become “disillusioned” with the functioning of the government headed by Yeddyurappa.

The Bench delivered its verdict bringing the smiles back on all 11 BJP and five Indep­endent MLAs on a bunch of sp­ecial leave petitions filed by them challenging the Karnataka High Court judgments upholding their disqualification. The court also noted that similar allegations were leve­ll­ed against other BJP legislators M P Renukacharya and Na­r­a­s­i­mha Nayak but their retraction was accepted by the Speaker.

However, 11 other party MLAs stood disqualified under paragraph 2(1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution.

In its judgment, the Bench said the disqualified legislators’ were given just three days to reply to show-cause notices which were not served directly to them but were pasted on the outer doors of their quarters in the MLA complex in violation of Rule 6 and 7 of the anti-defection law. Regarding five independent MLAs’ case, the court said in a separate judgment that they did not lose their status by offering their support or joining the BJP government.“We are unable to accept the submission that by extending support to Yeddyurappa government in the formation of BJP-led government, the appellants had sacrificed their Independent identity.

The fact that they joined the council of ministers does not also point to such an eventuality,” the court said. The Bench said that the Independents’ decision to join the Cabinet also did not mean that they had joined the party. It set aside the Speaker’s order and also the full Bench decision of the Karnataka HC of February 14, 2010, upholding disqualification of five Independent MLAs.

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