Arguments of Shankar, Shrimanth Patil junked

Supreme Court

Upholding the disqualification of R Shankar and Shrimanth B Patil, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that their arguments that they were not given opportunity to defend themselves, would not hold.

The apex court bench headed by Justice N V Ramana junked the contention of Shankar that he was not member of Congress as his party Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party’s (KPJP) merger with Congress was incomplete.

The court observed that Shankar himself accepted that he had agreed to merge his party with Congress and became minister in the JD(S)-Congress government. Even after his resignation as minister, the Speaker had written to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly secretary treating him as Congress member and allot him a seat along with Congress members in next session.

However, Shankar argued that his party’s merger was not completed and hence Congress whip was not applicable during vote of confidence.

Dismissing the arguments of Shrimanth B Patil that he was absent during the no confidence motion due to health reasons, the court observed that he was well-aware that the House would take up confidence vote.

Patel, who was Congress MLA from Kagawada, did not resign, instead was absent during vote of confidence citing health reasons. During vote of confidence Patil was admitted to hospital in Mumbai.

He admitted that he had sent a letter dated July 23, 2019 which refers to the disqualification petition. This shows petitioner herein was clearly aware of the disqualification proceedings, the order said.

On Patil’s arguments that he was disqualified by Speaker without giving opportunity to defend himself, the court said “the petitioner has not submitted material to controvert the findings recorded by the Speaker in the impugned order.”

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