Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Sunday disqualified the rest of the Congress and JD(S) rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law till the end of the assembly term in 2023, a day ahead of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa seeking the trust vote in the assembly to prove his majority. Kumar's move comes even as the ex-MLAs who were disqualified last week are likely to move the Supreme Court against Kumar's decision on Monday.
Kumar announced that all the disqualification for all the rebel ex-legislators will be valid for the current term of the House, which is scheduled to end in May 2023. Effectively, the politicians will not be able to contest the by-elections that will be held in their constituencies.
"The disqualified MLAs cannot fight elections until the expiry of the term of the 15th Assembly," ANI quoted Kumar as saying. The 14 MLAs include Byrathi Basavaraj, Munirathna, ST Somashekar, Roshan Baig, Anand Singh, MTB Nagaraj, BC Patil, Prathap Gouda Patil, Dr Sudhakar, Shivaram Hebbar, Shrimant Patil of the Congress party and K Gopalaiah, Narayana Gowda, and AH Vishwanath of the JD(S).
The Speaker's action would have no bearing on the fate of the Yediyurappa government, as with disqualification of the errant MLAs with immediate effect, their absence will reduce the effective strength of the House, making it a smooth affair for the BJP.
On Thursday, Kumar had announced the disqualification of three MLAs — Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathalli, and R Shankar — out of which, Shankar was an Independent MLA. The three are likely to approach the Supreme Court against the term of the disqualification imposed by Kumar, reports said.
On Monday, the fledgling BJP government in the state is likely to hold a trust vote in order to secure a majority with the aim of passing the finance bill in the House.
With the disqualification of 17 rebel politicians on Sunday, the effective strength of the 224-member Assembly excluding the Speaker, who has a casting vote in case of a tie, is 207. The halfway mark has become 104.
BJP along with the support of one independent has 106 members, Congress 66 (including nominated), JD(S) 34 and one BSP member, who has been expelled by the party for not voting for the Kumaraswamy government during the trust vote. "I have used my judicial conscience... I am 100 percent hurt" said the Speaker, when asked about his controversial decision on disqualification being called into question and allegations about his conduct in the entire issue.
The Speaker's sudden move also comes with indications from the BJP that it was mulling moving a no-confidence against him if he doesn't voluntarily give up the post when the Assembly meets on Monday.
The Speaker had made it clear when he disqualified three rebel MLAs earlier that a member disqualified under the anti-defection law cannot contest or get elected till the end of the term of the present House, a contention which has been challenged by the BJP, rebel politicians and several legal experts.
Reading out the names of errant ex-MLAs, the Speaker said, "they cease to be MLAs with immediate effect till the expiry of the 15th assembly (in 2023)," adding, "with responsibility and fear I have taken this decision."
The BJP slammed the Speaker's action, calling it "unfair and violative of the law" which, it said, had been taken "yielding to the pressure from a party". "It is a motivated and defective order," said senior BJP leader Govind Karjol, adding, the rebels would challenge it in the Supreme Court, where they were certain to "get justice."
The MLAs had quit on their own and their resignations should have been accepted, Karjol said. Karnataka Congress welcomed the Speaker's decision to disqualify the rebel MLAs.
The Speaker said he was taking the action based on the petitions moved by the Congress and JD(S) to disqualify the rebel MLAs, who had also submitted resignations as Assembly members and were absent during the trust vote sought by the HD Kumaraswamy-led government, leading to its downfall.
In the floor test that saw the downfall of the HD Kumaraswamy-led government, 105 MLAs had voted against the coalition while 99 MLAs had voted in support of it. Monday's trust vote on the BJP government is likely to see the same division of votes, CNN-News18 reported.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Jul 28, 2019 16:20:35 IST