MLAs’ resignation: all eyes on Speaker

The locked chamber of Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, at Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru on Monday. Kumar is scheduled to consider the resignations of MLAs today. DH Photo/S K Dinesh

All eyes are on Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar who is scheduled to look into the resignation of 13 Congress and JD(S) MLAs on Tuesday.

Resignation of the rebel MLAs – 10 Congress and three JD(S) - and two Cabinet ministers has brought the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government on the verge of collapse. Though the MLAs resigned on Saturday, the Speaker decided to look into their papers on Tuesday as he was busy with other engagements.

Official sources in the Assembly secretariat said the Speaker has many options before him.

‘Three options’

First, he can immediately accept the resignation and issue the notification in this regard. Second, he can issue a notice to the MLAs directing them to appear before him personally to clarify his doubts.

Third, the Speaker can simply buy some more time, saying that he was still examining the resignation letters.

“The exercise to examine the resignation is intended at ascertaining whether the MLAs have resigned without succumbing to any pressure. The Speaker has to be convinced about it. He can seek clarification and examine all aspects till he actually gets convinced,” the sources pointed out.

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Disqualification

However, official sources in the Assembly secretariat said the Speaker is unlikely to disqualify rebel MLAs while their resignation letters are still pending.

Former Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli said a MLA can be disqualified on two grounds: On defying the whip and on voluntarily leaving the party. None of the MLAs who have resigned has said they are leaving the party.

‘Vague Schedule X’

Moreover, the Schedule X is vague and subject to interpretation. Speaker Ramesh Kumar, while examining Congress’ petition seeking disqualification of the then MLA Umesh Jadhav ahead of Lok Sabha polls, had said the Schedule X was not comprehensive.

“Even if he is disqualified under the anti-defection law, he (Umesh Jadhav) can contest from the same constituency. I have before me a resignation and a disqualification petition.

“When it comes to disqualification, the Schedule X is not comprehensive,” Ramesh Kumar had stated, adding that there was a need for reframing the Schedule X.

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