Governor can't refer petition, Reddys tell EC

The Reddy brothers -- Tourism Minister G Janarthana Reddy, his brother Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy and Health Minister B Sreeramulu sent their replies to the EC which had earlier issued notices to them.

The action of the Governor came on a petition filed by K C Kondaiah, Congress MLC, against the three Bellary ministers under Article 192(2) of the Constitution (relating to disqualification) on June 3, seeking their disqualification as MLAs on grounds of alleged amassing of wealth and misuse of power.

The Congress leader, in his petition, had sought the Reddy brothers' disqualification, charging that as ministers, there was a conflict of interest with them having business interests in mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

The Election Commission has no option but to come to a conclusion that the reference made by the Governor was "bad in the eye of law" and the EC has to reject it on the ground that it has been sent by the Governor after having held an enquiry and formed an opinion "without any authority", the reply filed by Karunakara Reddy said.

Questioning the EC issuing show cause notices, Janarthana reddy,  in his response, said that the EC was under a Constitutional obligation to prima facie satisfy itself as to the existence of any question and it was only thereafter that a notice can be issued.
"On perusal of the order of reference of the Governor, the only question that could be gathered is with reference to illegal mining which cannot be looked into by the Commission," he said adding "this notice has been an unprecedented case both for the Governor as well as the EC".

Terming "as utterly false" that he was involved in massive mining business in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Janarthana Reddy said that it was not for the first time, after assuming charge as the member of Legislative Council, he was carrying out any mining operations.

"It pre-existed the elections and therefore the reference is not maintainable on this point" and cannot be looked into by the EC, he argued.In his reply, Sriramulu contended that if the Governor receives any such petition, his duty was not to refer to as it is to the EC for its opinion but to raise a 'question'.

"In the present case, the Governor failed to raise a 'Question'... and constitution does not permit the EC to give its opinion on it", he said adding that the EC cannot give its opinion on the ground that the reference made by the governor itself was "bad in law".Bhardwaj had issued notice to the three, asking them to appear in person and clarify the situation, but they were represented by their counsels and even questioned the Governor's action.

"It is a fit case for reference to the Election Commission for its opinion under Article 192(2) of the Constitution and, therefore a reference has been made to the EC for opinion in the matter," the Governor had said in a statement.

While Karunakara Reddy and Sreeramulu are members of the Assembly, Janardhana Reddy is a Legislative Council member.

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