SC declines to allow plea against Bopaiah as pro tem Speaker

SC declines to allow plea against Bopaiah as pro tem Speaker

K G Bopaiah

The Supreme Court on Saturday declined to allow a plea by Congress and JD(S) leaders against the appointment of K G Bopaiah as pro tem speaker of Karnataka Assembly.

The top court said it cannot direct the Governor as who is to be appointed to the post. It also pointed that the appointment of the senior-most member as pro tem speaker was just a convention and not a rule and the law.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, however, said a decision taken to telecast live proceedings of the House was “just and fair” and would solve the problem. The top court fixed the hearing on Saturday after an “extremely urgent” plea was moved on Friday evening with the appointment of Bopaiah. 

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that his appointment was a problem in view of his past record. Sibal specifically pointed towards the apex court judgement in 2011 in which it found Bopaiah as Speaker had on October 10, 2010, disqualified 11 BJP MLAs on the ground of defection under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which was “illegal and without jurisdiction”.

On this, the bench said, “If you want us to examine the suitability of the appointment of pro tem Speaker, then notice has to issued to him and he has to be heard. Then in that case, the floor test will have to be deferred or postponed.”

The court also said it was at the instance of petitioners Congress leader G Parameshwara and JD(S) state chief H D Kumaraswamy, the orders were passed on Friday to conduct of floor test under the supervision of pro tem Speaker on Saturday. On this, Sibal said the notification appointing Bopaiah does not specify that he would conduct floor test.

“Who will then conduct the floor test,” the bench then asked. On Sibal’s insistence, it was the convention that the senior most member is appointed as pro-tem Speaker, the bench said, “It is a convention only. Conventions are not rules and they cannot be the law.”

At this time, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for state government and Governor, intervened to say a decision has been taken to provide a live feed for telecasting the proceedings in all channels. Sibal and Singhvi then decided not to press their plea.