Disqualification by Speaker not final: SC

Bopaiah acted against Independent MLAs out of bad faith, rules apex court

Disqualification by Speaker not final: SC

 An order issued by the speaker on disqualification of a member of legislative assembly does not attain finality and is open to judicial review under the writ jurisdictions of the superior courts, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A bench of Justices Altmas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph passed the significant ruling while setting aside the Karnataka High Court judgement, which upheld the state assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah’s decision to disqualify 5 independent MLAs in October 2010 before the trust vote by then Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.

“On the question of justiciability of the Speaker’s order on account of the expression of finality in paragraph 2 of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, it is now well-settled that such finality did not bar the jurisdiction of the superior Courts under Articles 32, 226 and 136 of the Constitution to judicially review the order of the Speaker,” the Bench said.

“Under paragraph 2 of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, the Speaker discharges quasi-judicial functions, which makes an order passed by him in such capacity, subject to judicial review,” the bench said.

The apex court passed the detailed judgment with regard to the special leave petitions concerning 5 independent MLAs of the Karnataka assembly.

The bench had already pronounced same verdict on May 13, last year along with the judgment on plea of 11 BJP MLAs challenging the HC’s order which had confirmed their disqualification. Gulihatti D Shekar, Venkataramanappa, P M Narendraswamy, D Sudhakar and Shivaraj Thangadagi – all elected as independents -- were disqualified by Speaker K G Bopaiah on October 10, 2010 a day before the trust vote as they had expressed their disillusionment with the Yeddyurappa government.

“The impugned order of the Speaker is vitiated by mala fides,” the apex court said, holding that Bopaiah had acted in “great haste” to ensure that the trust vote did not go against the CM.

The bench rejected the contention that by extending support to Yeddyurappa earlier , the MLAs had sacrificed their independent identities.

“The fact that the said Appellants also joined the Council of Ministers does not also point to such an eventuality. It is no doubt true that an independent legislator does not always have to express his intention to join a party in writing, but the mere extension of support to Yeddyurappa and the decision to join his Cabinet, in our view, were not sufficient to conclude that the Appellants had decided to join and/or had actually joined the BJP, particularly on account of the subsequent conduct in which they were treated differently from the members of the BJP.”

“In view of our finding that the Appellants had not joined any political party as alleged, the order of disqualification passed by the Speaker was against the Constitutional mandate in para 2(2) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution,” the court concluded.

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