Karnataka's disqualified MLAs seek urgent hearing in SC

Karnataka's disqualified MLAs on Tuesday sought an urgent hearing from the Supreme Court on their plea against the then Speaker's order rejecting their resignations and declaring them ineligible to be legislators again for the term of the 15th Karnataka Legislative Assembly.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the matter before a bench led by Justice Arun Mishra for consideration of the matter.

He said the petitions were filed on August 1.

On his request, the bench, which also comprised Justices M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi, said the plea for urgent listing would be examined by the Registrar.

All 17 disqualified MLAs had filed the writ petitions.

In the one-joint petition, Pratap Gouda Patil, B C Patil, A S Hebbar, S T Somashekar, B A Basavaraja and Muniratna contended the Speaker's orders passed on July 28 was “wholly illegal, arbitrary and malafide” as he arbitrary rejected their resignations holding those as not voluntary and genuine.

They contended they had resigned on July 6 but Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar went on to disqualify them on the basis of a “wholly misconceived” petition filed by the Congress party on July 10.

Three JDS members, A H Vishwanath, K Gopalaiah and K C Narayanagowda, also filed their separate writ petition questioning the validity of the Speaker's order to disqualify them.

Similarly, other disqualified MLAs – Roshan Baig, Anand Singh, MTB Nagaraj, Dr K Sudhakar, Shrimant B Patil and R Shankar – also urged the court to quash the orders passed by the Speaker.

Two rebel Congress leaders Ramesh L Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli had earlier filed their petition against the orders.

All the disqualified MLAs raised the same grounds by maintaining that their right to resign from the post of MLA and carry on any vocation of their choice including public service cannot be denied by the Speaker by a completely illegal and unconstitutional order.

The petitioners claimed that the actions of the Speaker violated their Constitutional right under Article 190 and were, therefore, illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

They contended the Speaker's action to disqualify them till the end of the term of the Assembly was against Article 361-B of the Constitution.

"The impugned order is not in consonance with the provisions of Rules 6 and 7 of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly (Disqualification of Members on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986, inasmuch as, they were not given seven days' notice before the matter was taken up for hearing," they said.

Among others, they also pointed out that the Speaker, in the case of Umesh Jadhav, demonstrated that pendency of disqualification proceedings was no bar to acceptance of resignation, since his resignation made on March 4 was accepted on April 1, even though similar disqualification petition filed against him on February 11 was pending before the Speaker.

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