Supreme Court upholds disqualification of Karnataka rebel MLAs, but allows them to contest 5 December bypolls

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the deck for the 17 disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs of Karnataka to re-contest the upcoming Assembly by-elections

  • A three-judge bench of justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari had on 25 October reserved its verdict on the petitions filed by these disqualified MLAs.

  • However, the apex court upheld disqualification of these MLAs from the state Assembly on the orders of the then Assembly speaker KR Ramesh Kumar

The Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the deck for the 17 disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs of Karnataka to re-contest the upcoming Assembly by-elections. However, the apex court upheld disqualification of these MLAs from the state Assembly on the orders of the then Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.

The bench deprecated the manner in which the disqualified MLAs directly approached it without first moving high court. The court said its verdict is based on facts and circumstance of the case and does not interfere in the Speaker's power to disqualify members.

A three-judge bench of justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari had on 25 October reserved its verdict on the petitions filed by these disqualified MLAs.

 Supreme Court upholds disqualification of Karnataka rebel MLAs, but allows them to contest 5 December bypolls

Representative image of Supreme Court of India. Reuters

Kumar had disqualified these 17 MLAs of ruling the Congress-JD(S) coalition ahead of a trust vote in July.

The then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy had resigned after losing the trust vote, which paved the way for the BJP-led government in the state under BS Yediyurappa.

Bypolls to 15 out of these 17 Assembly seats which fell vacant following the disqualification of MLAS are scheduled on December 5 and candidates are required to file their nomination papers between 11 and 18 November.

Some of these disqualified MLAs had argued in the apex court that they have an "indefeasible right" to resign as members of the Assembly and the decision by the then Speaker to disqualify them smacks of "vengeance" and "mala fide" intent.

During the arguments in the matter, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Karnataka Congress, had contended that the then Speaker, who was the master of the Assembly, had exercised his jurisdiction to disqualify these MLAs and his decision cannot be questioned.

Sibal had also submitted that "the matter needs to be referred to a Constitution bench as it raises matters of grave constitutional importance".

The Election Commission, had, meanwhile argued that their current resignations could not be held as grounds to stop them from contesting polls in future.

The incumbent Karnataka Assembly Speaker had earlier told the top court that he has no difficulty in hearing these 17 MLAs and take a "fresh call" on the issue.

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the office of the Karnataka Assembly Speaker, had submitted that under the scheme of Constitution, a lawmaker has a right to resign and the Speaker should accept it. The current Assembly Speaker is V Hegde Kageri.

The disqualified MLAs are: Pratap Gowda Patil, BC Patil, Shivram Hebbar, ST Somashekar, Byrati Basavaraj, Anand Singh, R Roshan Baig, N Munirathna, K Sudhakar and MTB Nagaraj, Shrimant Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumatalli and R Shankar (all Congress). JD(S) members who faced action are K Gopalaiah, AH Vishwanath and KC Narayana Gowda.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 13, 2019 13:08:00 IST