Supreme court of India
Supreme court of India

SC verdict leaves Karnataka govt hanging by a thread

ANI | Updated: Jul 17, 2019 14:31 IST

New Delhi [India], July 17 (ANI): In an order that left the fate of the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka hanging by a thread, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the 15 rebel MLAs of the ruling side cannot be compelled to participate in the trust vote in the Assembly tomorrow even as it gave freedom to the Speaker to decide on their resignation in a timeframe he considers it appropriate.
However, the court said that the Speaker's order on the resignations of the MLAs, whenever it is taken, should be placed before it.
"Until further orders, the 15
of the Assembly ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or to opt to remain out of the same," a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said in its verdict.
The court observed that Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar cannot be forced to take a decision within a time frame on the resignations of the rebel MLAs.
"In these circumstances, the competing claims have to be balanced by an appropriate interim order, which according to us, should be to permit the Speaker of the House to decide on the request for resignations by the 15 members of the House within such time frame as the Speaker may consider appropriate," the bench said.
A floor test is scheduled for tomorrow in the Assembly when it will take up the Confidence Motion to be moved by Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
In the 224-member House, the 13-month-old coalition is precariously placed if the rebels keep out of the Assembly during the vote tomorrow. Without the support of the rebels, the coalition enjoys the support of around 100 members as against the support of 105 being claimed by the Opposition BJP.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the rebel MLAs, told reporters, "In view of the trust vote kept for tomorrow, the Supreme Court has said two important things - the 15 MLAs will not be compelled to attend the House tomorrow. All the 15 MLAs are given the liberty that they may or may not go to the House tomorrow.
"The three-line whip issued to the rebel MLAs to attend the House tomorrow is not operative in view of the Supreme Court judgement. Secondly, the Speaker has been given time to decide on the resignations as and when he wants to decide."
The Speaker welcomed the apex court's order saying he respected it.
Karnataka minister and chief trouble shooter for the Congress, D K Shiv Kumar also welcomed the order saying the Speaker's position under the tenth schedule has been respected but warned the rebels whether they would like to lose the chances of becoming a minister by keeping away from voting tomorrow.
He said while the MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the House proceedings, there was also the question of effectiveness of the anti-defection law under which political parties are empowered to issue whip to the members to participate in the business of the House and vote in accordance with its direction.
Kumar said the rebel MLAs, some of whom are experienced MLAs for five or seven terms, were being "misled".
The rebel MLAs had filed a petition before the apex court claiming that the Speaker was not deciding on their resignation letters and was attempting to force them to participate in the voting by threatening disqualification.
Those who filed the petition included Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar and Mahesh Kumathalli from Congress and K Gopalaiah, H D Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda from JD(S).
Five other rebel MLAs - K Sudhakar, Roshan Baig, MTB Nagaraj, Muniratna and Anand Singh - had approached the court on July 13 contending they had resigned "voluntarily" and that their resignation must be accepted by the Speaker.
In its order, the court observed that the issue arising in the case is whether the resignations submitted by MLAs a point of time earlier than petitions for their disqualiciation under the Tenthy Schedule of the Constitution (anti-defection law) should have priority in the decision making process or whether both sets of proceedings should be taken up simultaneously or the disqualification proceedings should have precedence over the requests for resignation.
Referring to the arguments of counsels for the parties on the touchstone of Articles 164, 190, 191, 221(2) and 361B and the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, the court said we have considered the same.
"Constiutional principles should not receive an exhaustive enumeration by the Court unless such an exercise is inevitable and unavoidable to resolve the issues that may have arisen any judicial proceedings.
"In the present case, having regard to the stage at which the above issues are poised in the light of the facts and circumstances surrounding the same, we are of the view that the aforesaid questions should receive an answer only at a later stage of the proceedings," the judges said.
The imperative necessity at this stage, the judges said, is to maintain the constitutional balance and the cfonflicting and competing rights that have been canvassed before them.
"Such an interim exercise has become prudent in view of certain time frame exercise(s) that is in the offing in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, particular,m the no-trust motion against the present government, which we are told is due for being taken up on July 18, 2019.
"In these circumstances, the competing claims have to be balanced by an appropriate order, which according to us, should be to permit the Hon'ble Speaker of the House to decide on the request for resignations by the 15 Members of the House within such time frame as the Hon'ble Speaker may consider appropriate.
"We also take the view that in the present case, the discretion of the Hon'ble Speaker while deciding the above issue should not be fettered by any direction or observation of this Court and the Hon'ble Speaker should be left free to decide the issue in accordance with Article 190," they said.
The also observed that read with Rule 202 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly framed in exercise of the powers under Article 208 of the Constitution.
"The order of the Hon'ble Speaker on the resignations issue, as and when passed, be placed before the Court. We also make it clear that until further orders the 15 Members of the Assembly, ought not to be compelled to par5ticipate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or to opt to remain out of the same. '
"We order accordingly," the judges said. (ANI)

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