The MLAs attempted to move the apex court praying for postponement of the December 5 byelection to 15 Assembly seats. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the disqualified lawmakers, prayed before the three-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana to direct the Election Commission to postpone the bypolls till the court decides the case. The court, however, asked him to file an application in the proper form, refusing to entertain further submissions on the subject.
The Election Commission is scheduled to notify the schedule of events for the byelections on Monday. The apex court, meanwhile, will be on a holiday on Monday and Tuesday. The court is currently seized of a series of high-profile cases including the one on Ayodhya dispute, entry of women into the Sabarimala shrine, Rafale deal and whether CJI office should come under RTI etc. This is what has made both Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, the state BJP and the disqualified lawmakers as they are not sure of getting an immediate relief from the apex court next week.
The EC has announced bypolls to 15 Assembly segments. Election of MLAs in two other constituencies is a subject matter of court litigation, and hence, the EC is waiting for a verdict.
Then Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, by separate rulings, has barred the 17 lawmakers – 14 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) – from contesting elections until 2023 when the term of the present Assembly expires, besides disqualifying them on charges of defection.
The disqualified members can contest the bypolls only if the apex court eases the restrictions imposed by the Speaker’s order.
The Congress, which has pressed for disqualified before the 3-judge bench, will be the biggest beneficiary as it sees the mass resignations by its MLAs as an act of betrayal and wants them to pay a price for it. It has even produced a leaked audio tape purportedly with the voice of Yediyurappa, which the party insisted was proof enough to show the BJP “poached” MLAs to overthrow the Janata Dal(S)-Congress coalition regime.
One apparent relief for the disqualified MLAs at the moment is that the Election Commission has informed the court that it has no objection to their contesting bypolls echoing a stand it took in respect of the recent case of a group of disqualified MLAs from Tamil Nadu.
They have quite a few hurdles to cross: first they need to get a relief from the court, then a ticket from the BJP to contest polls, and after that, formally join the party and win over the local BJP cadre.
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