SC to seal fate of disqualified MLAs on Wednesday

The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce on Wednesday judgement on pleas by the 17 ‘rebel’ Congress and JD(S) MLAs against their disqualification by then Speaker of Karnataka Assembly, under the Anti-defection law, which led to the collapse of the JDS-Congress coalition government in July.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari had on October 25 reserved its verdict after hearing arguments by senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan, Devadatt Kamat and K Shashi Kiran Shetty on behalf of the Congress and the JD(S) parties, and senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, C A Sundaram, V Giri, A K Ganguli, Sajan Povayya and K V Vishwanathan for the disqualified MLAs.

The rebel MLAs had on Friday asked the top court to further postpone the bypolls scheduled for December 5 as the judgement was still awaited. The court, which had fixed their plea for hearing on Wednesday (November 13), may not consider it, after fixing the judgement
date.

It was during the hearing on their plea, the Election Commission had deferred the bypolls from October 21 as the top court said it wanted to decide the issue full and final, instead of passing any interim order to allow the disqualified MLAs to contest polls, subject to the final outcome of their
petitions.

Since the disqualified MLAs claimed then-Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar went beyond mandate under Article 190 (2)(b) of the Constitution to disqualify them and disabling them to get elected again during the term 15th Legislative Assembly.

Interestingly, the current Assembly Speaker had offered to reconsider
the matter.

Meanwhile, the Congress party had said the issues should be referred to the Constitution bench since it involved a substantial question of law and will impact polity of the country.

The Election Commission, represented by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, submitted that the Speaker cannot draw power under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) to debar anyone from being a minister or contest bypolls.

Background

In one-joint petition, Pratapgouda Patil (Maski), B C Patil (Hirekerur), A S Hebbar, S T Somashekar, B A Basavaraj and Muniratna contended the Speaker’s orders passed on July 28 was ‘wholly illegal, arbitrary and malafide’ as he arbitrarily rejected their resignations holding them as not voluntary and genuine.

Three JDS members A H Vishwanath, K Gopalaiah and K C Narayana Gowda 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, Shrimanth B Patil and R Shankar – also urged the court to quash the orders passed by the Speaker.

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

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