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Karnataka political crisis: Speaker cannot disqualify rebel MLAs, BJP lawmaker asserts in the House

Siddaramaiah said the Supreme Court order has not barred him from issuing the whip to his party lawmakers.

ET Bureau|
Jul 23, 2019, 03.09 PM IST
The Speaker last night set 6 pm deadline for the floor test today.
With the Congress and JD(S) actively pushing for the disqualification of their rebel MLAs before the trust vote, a BJP lawmaker has come to their defence in the Karnataka Assembly saying they are protected from disqualification under the Supreme Court order.

BJP lawmaker JC Madhuswamy on Tuesday said that according to the July 17 interim order on the floor test the Supreme Court has barred Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar from disqualifying the 15 rebel MLAs who have moved the court.

The Speaker has to consider the resignations before taking up the applications seeking their disqualification, Madhuswamy said in response to a point made by Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah.

Mukul Rohatgi , the counsel to the rebel MLAs, too had told reporters outside the Supreme Court in Delhi today that the rebels were protected under the Sc ruling which said they could not be forced to attend proceedings.

Siddaramaiah said the Supreme Court order has not barred him from issuing the whip to his party lawmakers, a power he very much enjoyed under the 10th schedule of the Constitution.

"That is why my point of order was upheld (by the Speaker yesterday), he said, while clarifying that the SC has only said the petitioner MLAs cannot be compelled to attend the House," Siddaramaiah said.

Speaker Ramesh Kumar too had ruled yesterday the leader of the Congress legislative party was within his rights under the Constitution to issue a whip.

The Congress is pushing for the disqualification of 15 of its MLAs - an an independent MLA who had merged his party - and the JD(S) is pushing for the disqualification of three. Sources in the government said the Speaker was very much seized of the matter.

The 12 Congress MLAs are ST Somashekar, Pathap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumathalli, Anand Singh, BC Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, Byrathi Basavaraj, Muniratna, R Roshan Baig, MTB Nagaraj, and Dr K Sudhakar, and JD(S) members H Vishwanath, Gopalaiah and Narayana Gowda. The Congress is also pushing for the disqualification of independent member R Shankar as he had given letter merging his party KPJP with the Congress.

The Assembly is in session now, and the BJP is pushing for a floor test by evening. The Speaker last night set 6 pm deadline for the floor test today.

About 20 members are keeping off the assembly: 14 Congress, 3 JD(S), one BSP and two independent members. Resignation of 15 Congress and JD(S) members have reduced the strength of the house from 224 members to 209. The BJP’s strength has gone up to 107 after the two independents pledged their loyalty to the party.

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