Circular: angry MLAs want top HC official summoned to House

A section of the MLAs on Friday sought that the Registrar General of High Court of Karnataka be summoned before the Legislative Assembly for signing a circular, which they claimed infringed upon their privilege.

The members argued in the Assembly that the circular, which bars legislators from sitting on the dais at inauguration of court buildings is an insult to them. They pressured Deputy Speaker N H Shivashankar Reddy (who was in the chair), to summon the judicial officer who signed the circular and seek an explanation from him.

The circular, dated October 14, 2016, states that “MPs and MLAs of the local area shall be invited only as invitees for inauguration of court buildings and they shall be alloted proper seats in the first row, but not on the dais.”

This is the second time the members have raised the circular issue in the House. It had triggered an outburst by members against the judiciary on Wednesday. Law Minister T B Jayachandra said he had met Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court on Thursday and conveyed to him the opinion of the House. Jayachandra said he had requested the Chief Justice to reconsider the circular.

However, the members said they were not functioning at the mercy of the judiciary. “There is no question of any request. We need not fall at their feet. The Constitution has bestowed on us our rights and not the judiciary,” said JD(S) member M T Krishnappa.

C T Ravi (BJP) and Sa Ra Mahesh (JD-S) demanded that the Registrar General be summoned before the House and a privilege motion be moved.  “Just because I am an elected representative does not mean that I am a criminal. They cannot treat us like that..let there be a confrontation,” Ravi said.

Krishnappa said the government should stop disbursing salaries to judicial officers and all grants should be held over. B B Ningaiah and D Nagarajaiah (both JD-S) said they had not even been invited for inauguration of court buildings in their respective constituencies. Jayachandra said he too had gone through a similar experience before becoming law minister and it was not possible to “forget the incident.”

Jayachandra said it is the Constitutional obligation of the legislature to ensure basic amenities are provided to courts and grants cannot be stopped.

JD(S) floor leader H D Kumaraswamy said the high court had issued a similar circular some years ago and it was withdrawn following the filing of a public interest litigation.
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