Karnataka bypolls: EC agrees to defer polls on 15 seats

The hearing of the petitions challenging the disqualification of MLAs remains pending.
Last Updated 26 September 2019, 12:22 IST

The Election Commission on Thursday agreed before the Supreme Court to defer by-polls on 15 seats in Karnataka, scheduled for October 21.

The development comes as a relief for the disqualified MLAs who wanted the top court to pass an interim order to suspend the by-election otherwise their writ petitions, challenging the then Speaker's order stripping them of their membership of the Legislative Assembly and debarring them to get re-elected till the end of term, would become meaningless.

The by-polls are significant for the fate of the B S Yeddyurappa government, which was formed in the wake of the defiance of the 17 disqualified MLAs to whip of their parties Congress and the JDS.

At the end of day-long hearing on disqualified MLAs' plea, the poll panel led by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi made an oral submission before a three-judge bench presided over by Justice N V Ramana that he would advise for issuing fresh notification to defer the bypolls.

His submission came as the bench, also comprising Justices Sanjeev Khanna and Krishna Murari, said the court wanted to decide finally the petitions filed by disqualified MLAs against the orders by the Speaker.

The court also noted there was still some time left till the mandatory six-month period for filling up vacant posts in the Assembly was over. The vacancy on seats 17 seats of disqualified MLAs was notified on July 25.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, appearing for Congress and JDS, as well as senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, C A Sundaram, V Giri and K V Vishwanathan, who represented the disqualified MLAs and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the present Speaker and all other counsel agreed to the proposition put forth by the court.

The court now put the matter for further hearing on October 22.

The top court had on Wednesday and Thursday heard arguments on disqualified MLAs' plea to pass interim orders to either suspend the by-polls or allow them to contest.

The then Assembly Speaker had disqualified 17 MLAs and debarred them to be legislators again till the term of 15 th Karnataka Assembly. The EC had on Saturday announced the bypolls in 15 out of 17 constituencies. In two constituencies, Raja Rajeshwari Nagar and Maski, elections petitions are pending in the Karnataka High Court.

Seventeen MLAs -- 14 from Congress and three from JDS, had faced actions under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and stood disqualified by the Speaker on petitions filed their party leaders.

(Published 26 September 2019, 10:42 IST)

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