SC dismisses plea by Karnataka MLC A H Vishwanath

SC dismisses plea by Karnataka MLC A H Vishwanath

Vishwanath was one of 17 MLAs who had resigned, leading to collapse of JDS-Congress government in Karnataka

Karnataka BJP MLC A H Vishwanath. Credit: DH File Photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea by Karnataka BJP MLC A H Vishwanath against the High Court's judgement, which held that he continued to remain disqualified under the anti-defection law.

"You are not entitled to be appointed as minister," a bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde told his counsel, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan.

Vishwanath was one of 17 MLAs who had resigned, leading to collapse of JDS-Congress government in Karnataka. All the rebel MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The apex court had in November, 2019 upheld the Speaker's order but said the disqualified MLAs can contest bypolls and their disqualification would not last till the term of the Assembly.

After he lost bypolls, BJP nominated him in July, 2020 to legislative council in a move to induct him as a minister in the B S Yeddyurappa government.

A division bench of the HC, however, had held on November 30 that disqualification of Vishwanath would remain in operation despite his nomination.

On Thursday, arguing for Vishwanath, Sankaranarayanan contended his disqualification under Article 164 (1)(b) of the Constitution was restricted to the term of the office for which he was disqualified.

The bench, however, said the disqualification would subsist if he was simply nominated to the legislative council and did not get not re-elected.

"If you come back elected, it is fine. If you are simply nominated, it cannot be. The HC is right and its order is well-reasoned," the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said.

The counsel tried to contend that the HC had acted on a PIL but the top court said the petitioner could not be granted any relief on technical ground.