SC declines Speaker's request to recall order

Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. DH file photo

In a swift move, Karnataka Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar on Thursday afternoon moved the Supreme Court to recall its order passed this morning to take a decision on resignations of 10 rebel MLAs by the end of the day.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi declined the plea mentioned by senior advocates A M Singhvi and Devadatt Kamat on behalf of the Speaker.

The court orally observed it has already passed the order in the morning and it was for the Speaker to decide what his course of action should be.

Singhvi said the Speaker's constitutional duty and the Assembly rules mandated for him to conduct an inquiry to ascertain whether the MLAs have resigned voluntarily or under duress. Such an inquiry cannot be completed forthwith or latest by the midnight.

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The counsel also contended the Speaker was seized up the disqualification proceedings and was bound to decide it first.

The plea by the Speaker also stated , “With the greatest of respect to this court that under the framework of our Constitution, no direction is contemplated against the Speaker inter-alia to take a decision under Article 190 in a particular manner. The order sought to be vacated would also impede the duties of the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection) of the Constitution.”

The court, however, said it had already passed the order and would hear the matter on Friday.

No counsel from the Speaker's side was present during the morning hearing, when the top court allowed a plea by the MLAs, holed up in a Mumbai hotel, to appear before him at 6 pm. The court asked the Speaker to decide upon the MLAs resignation "forthwith, and, in any case, in the course of the remaining part of the day". 

In his application, the Speaker contended the inquiry mandated under Article 190(1)(b) and under the Rules and Procedure of Conduct of Business in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly cannot be completed by today itself.

He also pointed out that the disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule were also pending against the MLA’s from as far back as February 11, which were at the stage of the arguments and had been suppressed in the writ petition filed by them.

“The legal consequence of a disqualification and the legal consequences of resignation are entirely separate and distinct. Under Article 164(1) (B) and 361(B) of the Constitution, an MLA disqualified under the Tenth Schedule cannot be inducted as a Minister or appointed on a remunerative post unless and until he/she is re-elected,” his plea stated.

“The question which therefore requires to be decided by the Speaker is whether any disqualification has been incurred by the concerned MLA prior to the submission of the resignation letter,” he contended.
 

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