SC asks K’taka Speaker to maintain status quo on MLAs’ resignation till Tue
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday sprang a major surprise by claiming that he would seek a trust vote to end the “confusion” triggered by resignation of rebel MLAs and asserted that he is “ready for everything”.
With the resignation letters of as many as 16 MLAs of the Congress-JD(S) alliance pending with the Speaker, it is unclear how the Chief Minister would get the numbers to cross the halfway mark.
Earlier, the Supreme Court restrained the Speaker from taking any decision till next Tuesday on the resignation and disqualification of 10 rebel MLAs of the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition.
Kumaraswamy told the State Assembly that he has “voluntarily” decided to seek the vote, adding that he will continue as the CM only when he commands the support in the House.
Asserting that he did not come to the Chief Minister’s position with the intention of remaining in power forever, the JD(S) leader requested Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to fix a time for the confidence vote.
Later, in the business advisory committee meeting, Kumaraswamy proposed Wednesday for the trust vote. However, no decision was taken as the main Opposition BJP did not attend the meeting, sources said. A decision was likely to be taken on Monday, they added.
Senior Congress leader Siddaramiah on Friday said the decision to seek a trust vote by the coalition Government headed by HD Kumaraswamy was taken by the two ruling partners and asserted it has the numbers.
The Congress Legislature Party leader also said he had been talking to disgruntled party MLAs barring Roshan Baig because he has been suspended.
The Assembly met on Friday for a 11-day Monsoon Session against the backdrop of resignation of 16 ruling coalition MLAs that has raised questions over the Government’s survival. Kumaraswamy announced his decision to brave the trust vote during the obituary reference time. The Opposition BJP took exception to the Chief Minister raising the matter during obituary reference. State BJP president BS Yeddyurappa later told reporters that his party would decide its strategy on the basis of Kumaraswamy’s speech on the proposed trust vote.
Though Kumaraswamy wanted the Speaker to fix a time for the vote, the latter said as and when the Chief Minister informs him about the date on which he would move the confidence motion it will be mentioned in the list of business.
“He (CM) will have to tell me. The Chief Minister has spoken his mind that there is confusing situation and he will not stick to power. If he tells me when he will move a motion seeking trust vote, I will put it for business the next day,” the Speaker said.
According to a PTI report, Kumaraswamy was later seen in a relaxed mood in the Assembly lobby and expressed confidence about the trust vote and getting numbers in favour of the coalition.
According to the report, Kumaraswamy is said to be in direct talks with at least four Congress legislators, who have resigned and is hopeful that they will withdraw.
The ruling coalition’s total strength is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1), besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the halfway mark is 113. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the coalition’s tally will be reduced to 100.
In a related development, the BJP, apparently fearing poaching of its MLAs by the ruling coalition leaders, has decided to shift its legislators to a resort on the city outskirts.
In the Supreme Court, the Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi cited “weighty issues that have arisen” and said the matter will be considered by it on July 16 and the status quo as of Friday should be maintained. The Bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, specifically mentioned in the order that the Speaker would not decide on the issue of the resignation or the disqualification of rebel MLAs to enable the court to judge larger issues raised in the matter.
The Bench noted the issue of maintainability of the rebel MLAs’ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution was raised by the Speaker and the Karnataka Chief Minister.
The case involves issues of substantial importance related to Articles 190 and 361 of the Constitution, it said, adding that it also needs to address as to whether the Speaker is obligated to decide on disqualification proceedings before accepting the resignation of MLAs.
The Bench took into account the arguments by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, countering the Speaker’s submission that the disqualification plea of the ruling coalition in the southern State had to be decided before taking up the issue of resignation of the lawmakers.
“In view of the weighty issues that have arisen, we are of the view that the matter be considered by us on Tuesday. We are of the view that the status quo as of today with regard to the prevailing situation be maintained. Neither the issue of resignation nor that of disqualification be decided till Tuesday,” the Bench said.
Before passing the order, the Bench asked Kumar’s counsel AM Singhvi, “Is Speaker challenging the authority and power of the Supreme Court. Is it his case? Are you challenging our power to issue directions to the Speaker? Are you saying that we should stay our hands so far as the Speaker is concerned? You are suggesting that he is duty-bound to decide on the disqualification prior to their resignations.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker told the Supreme Court the allegation by 10 rebel MLAs of the Congress-JD(S) coalition that he had made himself “scarce” and was unavailable on the day of their resignation is “fallacious”.
In an affidavit, he said that none of these MLAs submitted the resignation in person or by hand to him. “It is therefore patently false to suggest that the Speaker had made himself scarce or was unavailable”.
The MLAs moved the apex court alleging that the Speaker was not accepting their resignations. Their counsel had told the top court on Thursday that on July 6, when some of the MLAs went to submit their resignations, the Speaker left his office through the back door.
Kumar said that such allegations not only undermine the authority of the office of the Speaker but are absolutely “fallacious” to say the least and have been made only with an “intent to mislead the apex court”.
He pointed out that the disqualification petitions of Ramesh Jarkhiholli and Mahesh Kumathalli, two rebel MLAs, were filed on February 11 and pending consideration.
Kumar further said that another rebel MLA, Anand Singh, had resigned on July 1 following which the Governor had written to the Speaker to take action as per the rules. On July 6, the office of the Speaker received the resignation letters of 12 MLAs, he added.
Saturday, 13 July 2019 | PNS | Bengaluru
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