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SC to pronounce order Wednesday on plea by Karnataka rebel MLAs

The bench said it would pronounce the order first thing in the morning at 10.30 am when it convenes on Wednesday.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 16, 2019, 06.17 PM IST
Supreme Court
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi concluded the hearings of the rebel MLAs, the Speaker and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will rule Wednesday morning on a plea by 15 rebel ruling coalition MLAs from Karnataka to direct the state Assembly Speaker to decide immediately on their resignation, or at least let them sit out a trust vote coming up later this week.

The 15 MLAs from the Congress and JD(S) risk disqualification from the House should they press their resignation and go against the party whip to support the HD Kumaraswamy government which apparently HAS been reduced to a minority.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the 15 MLAs, argued that Speaker Ramesh Kumar was sitting on the resignations to force them to obey the party whip - under fear of disqualification - and vote for the government in the trust vote on Thursday.

Rohatgi told a three-judge bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi that the Speaker was acting in a partisan manner and urged them to direct him to decide on the resignation letters latest by next day.

Disqualification proceeding would be a mini-trial under the Constitution's 10th Schedule, Rohatgi said, adding that resignation was different and should be decided purely on whether it was voluntary or not.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, on behalf the Speaker, argued that the rebel MLAs were hobnobbing with the Opposition BJP, and that the resignation was just defection by proxy.

Singhvi said the Chair was bound by the rule book to decide on disqualifications ahead of resignations and urged the court not to interfere in the matter till the Speaker took his call.

CJI Gogoi then questioned him sharply about the delay, asking "You were silent on the resignations till the MLAs came to the Supreme Court... Why?"

Singhvi offered that the Speaker could decide both disqualifications and resignations by the next day. A disqualification would bar the rebel MLAs from getting any ministerial posts in the next government.

CM Kumaraswamy told the court that the rebel MLAs were "hunting in a pack along with the BJP" to bring down his government and that it was not possible for the Speaker to ignore that.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Kumaraswamy, said the court shouldn't have entertained the petition by the MLAs , and that it was outside its jurisdiction to give directions to the Speaker to act in a particular way.

Dhavan urged the court to read resignation and disqualification together and let the Speaker, who is a Constitutional functionary, to make sure that the resignation was not a covert defection.

Rohatgi in his rejoinder then requested that the 15 rebels be exempt from appearing in the House on the basis of the whip of a ruling coalition which according to him, was reduced to a minority.

The bench said it would pronounce the order first thing in the morning at 10.30 am when it convenes on Wednesday.

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