Blow to anti-defection law: BJP

The Supreme Court had last week quashed the Karnataka Assembly Speaker’s decision to annul the 11 legislators’ membership by setting aside High Court’s judgment upholding the Speaker’s ruling.

“I am sure on a future date this judgment will be re-visited. The Supreme Court is final. It is not infallible. Even erroneous views of the courts are binding,” Jaitley said.

In an article tracing the chain of events, he contended that the BJP MLAs had written a letter expressing lack of confidence in Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa’s leadership  and then disappeared from the state, went to Goa  and ‘hobnobbed’ with JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy. They had given several interviews too. “Was it then unreasonable for either the Speaker or the Karnataka  High Court to come to a conclusion that this amounted to a voluntary relinquishment of the membership of the party on which they were elected to the Assembly? They obviously wanted the government of B S Yeddyurappa to be dismissed,” Jaitley said.

The Supreme Court ruling had accepted the MLAs’ argument “that they had merely a change of leadership within the party in mind, with another chief minister of the BJP.”
The court had also accepted the argument that their journey to Goa and other places after writing this letter (though not denied by them,) “could not be used as evidence against them.”

“We live in a real world. We know what the MLAs did. They wanted the government to go. If they wanted a change of leadership within the party, they should have written to the party president and not to the Governor,” Jaitley argued.

The Supreme Court’s interpretation of events leading to Speaker’s ruling “has the adverse consequence” on the operation of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution relating to anti-defection. Such an interpretation would enable potential defectors to misuse the provisions of the Tenth Schedule, play games with political morality and then put on an innocent expression and allege that they have done nothing wrong”, Jaitley said.

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