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Karnataka Speaker trying to prop Kumaraswamys minority govt Rebel MLAs to SC

first_imgNEW DELHI: The 15 rebel Congress-JD (S) MLAs told the Supreme Court Tuesday that Karnataka assembly speaker K R Ramesh Kumar is trying to “prop” the H D Kumaraswamy-led government which has lost the majority and his non-acceptance of their resignations is a violation of fundamental right. They told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that it is their fundamental right to resign from the membership of the Assembly and the Speaker cannot “frustrate” it by not accepting the resignations. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for these MLAs, argued that once resignation is tendered, “notwithstanding the pendency of disqualification proceeding, has to be decided in its own course and the parameter for this is to see whether its voluntary or under coercion”. “When an MLA says that he wants to resign voluntarily, there is no rule not to accept it. It cannot be mixed up with the disqualification process. If an MLA says he will resign, nobody can compel him to discharge his duty as a member of the Assembly,” he told the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose. The bench, after hearing the submissions of the counsels representing the MLAs, the Speaker and the Chief Minister, said it would pronounce order Wednesday on the pleas filed by the 15 lawmakers seeking a direction for the Speaker to accept the resignations. Rohatgi said the speaker, by not accepting their resignations, is forcing them to vote in a particular manner during the scheduled trust vote on July 18. “This (resignation) is my right. He (Speaker) cannot force me (MLAs). He is infringing upon my fundamental right to resign and do whatever I want to do,” he told the bench. He argued that the Kumaraswamy-led government “is in minority” and idea behind keeping the resignations pending is to make them vote during the confidence motion. “What will happen if you (MLAs) resign?,” the bench asked Rohatgi. He said that if the resignations are accepted, the MLAs can join other party and may “become a minister tomorrow and then get elected to the Assembly within six months”. He said the Speaker has to only ascertain whether the resignation is voluntary and “nobody has put a gun on the temple (of an MLA) to resign”. Rohatgi said if the Speaker is not accepting the resignations, he is compelling these MLAs to do something against their wishes. “The rule says that decide the resignation now. By not deciding it and keeping it pending, he (Speaker) cannot be said to be neutral and is partisan,” he said. He said there may be several reasons for an MLA to resign from the membership of the Assembly. Referring to the unprecedented midnight hearing in the apex court last year, Rohatgi said that the court had directed the protem Speaker of Karnataka Assembly to conduct a floor test. He said the bench should ask the Speaker to decide on resignations of these MLAs during the day itself and he can later decide the issue of disqualification. He said there is vote of confidence in Assembly on July 18 and the rebel MLAs may be forced to follow the whip despite resigning. The bench asked Rohatgi if there was any constitutional obligation on the Speaker to decide disqualification which was initiated after the resignation. Rohatgi responded that the rules say to ‘decide now’ on resignation. “How can the speaker keep it pending?,” he asked. Disqualification proceeding is like a “mini-trial” under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, Rohatgi said, adding that resignation is different and its acceptance is based on single criterion — is it voluntary or not. There is nothing to show the rebel MLAs conspired with BJP, the senior advocate said, adding that the disqualification proceeding was nothing but to scuttle resignation of MLAs. He also told the court that the disqualification proceedings were initiated for not being “a disciplined soldier of the party and for not attending meetings outside the Assembly”. The bench further asked if all the disqualification pleas are on same grounds, to which Rohatgi replied “more or less same”. The rebel MLAs told the court that the Speaker kept their resignation pending just to disqualify them and there was nothing wrong in resigning to escape disqualification. Summing up the arguments, Rohatgi asked the bench to continue with its interim order directing Speaker to maintain status quo on the issue of resignations and disqualification of the MLAs. The counsel for the rebel MLAs also asked the bench that if the House assembles for business, the 15 rebel MLAs be exempted from appearing on the basis of the whip of the ruling coalition. Download The Times of India News App for Latest India News.XStart your day smart with stories curated specially for youlast_img

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