SC refuses to stall appointment of pro-tem Speaker; orders live telecast

Last Updated 19 May 2018, 17:00 IST

The Supreme Court on Saturday declined to act on a plea by Congress and JD(S) leaders against the appointment of KG Bopaiah as pro-tem Speaker of Karnataka Assembly.

A bench, comprising Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, said it was "fair and just" to telecast the proceedings of the House live.

"What more do you want?" the bench asked senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, who contended that Bopaiah conducting the floor test would be the problem because of his past record.

During the hearing, the counsel for petitioners G Parameshwara and H D Kumaraswamy pointed out to the strong observations made by the top court against him in 2011. They said the senior-most member of the House has to be appointed as the pro-tem Speaker.

The court, however, said this parliamentary convention has so far not been given legal sanction and there are several instances where this convention was not followed.

"Should we direct the Governor for the appointment? The convention of the appointment of senior-most has not been given final legal sanction, you have yourself seen different examples," the bench said, giving the example of Seesram Ola not being appointed as pro-tem Speaker in the Lok Sabha despite being senior-most.

The court also said, "if we were to review the order of Friday, May 18, then the floor test would have to be postponed and a notice has to be issued to Bopaiah''.

This observation by the court put the counsel for petitioners on backfoot.

Sibal, however, said he was not casting aspersions on any person.

Appearing for Karnataka Governor as well as the state government, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, however, intervened to point out that a decision has already been taken to telecast the proceedings live.

The court said this would solve all the problems. It passed the order, stating, "Several questions were raised by petitioners but we are not going into those in view of the statement by Mehta. There would be live telecast of the proceedings," the bench said.

"We also clarify that there shall be no other agenda than the oath-taking of MLAs and floor test," the Court ordered.

"Now, let us enjoy our holidays," this is how the Court concluded the hearing.

The courtroom burst into a bout of laughter as Justice A K Sikri, who headed the three-judge bench, made the jovial remark.

The court had been witnessing tensed, high-voltage arguments during the emergency hearings.

The hearing began on a sombre note, with senior advocate Kapil Sibal apologising to the bench for troubling it on a Saturday, which is a holiday for the court.

Justice Sikri, known for his gentle demeanour, said, "We have to do our constitutional duty."

Sibal then said, "We would have never troubled you, but we had no option other than to do this, as established principles weren't followed."

After the court concluded dictating its order, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Congress- JD(S) combine, told the bench, "In a lighter vein, we hope that we do not trouble you (judges) on Sunday."

Justice Sikri was quick to respond: "That's what we were discussing."

"We, ourselves, have that apprehension," Justice Sikri said.

(Published 19 May 2018, 05:31 IST)

Follow us on