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SC asks K'taka speaker to decide on rebel MLAs' resignations

Last updated on: July 11, 2019 18:23 IST

The Supreme Court asked the Karnataka Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to decide "forthwith" on Thursday about the resignation of 10 rebel Congress-Janata Dal-Secular coalition MLAs, allowing them to meet him at 6 pm.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the decision taken by the Speaker has to be intimated on Friday when the court takes up the matter again.

The bench, comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, also directed the Karnataka Director General of Police to provide protection to the 10 MLAs from Bengaluru airport to the assembly after their arrival from Mumbai.

 

Hours after the order was passed, the Speaker through his counsel, rushed to the apex court for modification of the direction asking him to decide the issue of the resignation in the course of the day.

However, the bench, which assembled after the lunch break told the Speaker's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi that the order has already been passed in the morning on the Karnataka assembly crisis and his application will be taken up Friday along with the plea of the rebel MLAs.

Senior advocate Devdutt Kamath said the Speaker has submitted that the rule permits him to first decide on the plea pending before him seeking disqualification of the rebel MLAs.

Further, he said it has been stated that the plea of the ruling coalition seeking disqualification of the rebel MLAs was also pending with the Speaker, but the order passed on Thursday morning only indicated that the Speaker will take a decision forthwith in the course of the day on the resignation tendered by the 10 rebel MLAs.

In the order passed, the bench, said: "Having regard to the facts of the case, we permit the petitioners (rebel MLAs), ten in number, to appear before the Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly at 6.00 p.m. today.

"We request the Speaker to grant an audience to the ten petitioners at the said time. The petitioners, if they so wish and are so inclined, shall intimate the Speaker of the Assembly their decision to resign, in which event, the Speaker shall take a decision forthwith and, in any case, in the course of the remaining part of the day."

It further said that "such decision of the Speaker as may be taken in terms of the present order, be laid before the Court tomorrow (Friday, July 12)".

The Bench took note of the submission of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for 10 rebel rebel MLAs that Karnataka Director General of Police, be directed to provide adequate security to them on reaching Bangalore from Mumbai.

"Such a request be made to the DGP well in time to enable the DGP to arrange for such security as the circumstances of the case would require," the order said.

The 10 rebel MLAs had moved apex court alleging that the Karnataka assembly speaker was not accepting their resignations.
The MLAs who have filed the petition are Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, A H Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda.

Rohatgi submitted that there is a startling state of affairs in the Karnataka Assembly where 15 MLAs want to resign but the Speaker is not accepting their resignations.

He submitted that on July 6, when some rebel MLAs went to submit their resignations, the Speaker left his office through the back door.

Rohatgi also said one of the rebel MLAs was manhandled when he tried to reach the Speaker's office on Wednesday.

He said the assembly will meet on July 12, but before that the ruling coalition has moved a disqualification application against the rebel MLAs.

"Instead of ordering for the floor test, attempt is made to disqualify the rebel MLAs. We want to resign and go to the public and seek re-election," Rohatgi submitted.

When he said 15 MLAs have already tendered their resignations, the bench said "we will take note of only ten MLAs who are before us".

As Rohatgi narrated the sequence of events from July 1, the bench orally observed "nothing surprises us".

He also reminded the bench about a May 2018 hearing and said that like last year, the court can direct the Speaker to conduct a floor test.

Rohatgi said there is total ruckus in both Bengaluru and Mumbai, where the rebel MLAs are staying and in view of such incidents, there was a need for police protection for the rebel MLAs.

The MLAs have alleged that the Speaker was protecting the government, which is in minority now, and sought a direction that he be restrained from proceeding with the application for their disqualification.

"Acting in a concerted manner, the Congress party has filed a petition before the Speaker seeking disqualification of the MLAs who have resigned. Needless to state, the disqualification proceedings are completely illegal and without any cause of action," they have said.

The rebel MLAs have stated that the assembly session is to begin from July 12, the same day that the MLAs have been asked to appear before the Speaker, which showed the "intent of the Speaker to disqualify the petitioners in a prejudged manner".

Thirteen MLAs -- 10 of the Congress and three of the JD-S -- submitted their resignation to the Speaker's office on July 6. Another Congress MLA, R Roshan Baig, resigned on Tuesday.

The ruling coalition's total strength is 116 -- Congress-78, JD-S-37 and BSP-1, besides the Speaker.

With the support of two independents, who resigned on July 8, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113.

 

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