New Delhi: Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on July 16 said in Supreme Court he would decide on the disqualification and resignation of rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs by July 17. The Speaker also requested the court to modify its earlier order to maintain status quo on the matter.
Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for the Speaker, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that ‘nobody is saying Speakers are not fallible, but he cannot be asked to decide the matter in a time-bound manner’.
“How can the Speaker be directed to decide in a particular manner?” Singhvi asked the court.
“Such orders are not passed even to a trial court,” he said.
He also said that a valid resignation should be submitted to the Speaker personally and the MLAs appeared before him only on July 11, five days after they submitted their resignations to his office.
The rebel MLAs told the court the Speaker kept their resignation pending just to disqualify them, and there was nothing wrong in resigning to escape disqualification.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, submitted before the bench that the Speaker can be directed to decide on the resignation of the MLAs by 2pm, and he can take a call on their disqualification later.
The bench asked Rohatgi if there was any Constitutional obligation on the Speaker to decide disqualification, which was initiated after the resignation. Rohatgi said the rules say to ‘decide now’ on resignation. “How can the Speaker keep it pending?” he asked.
The rebel MLAs told the court the state government had been reduced to a minority and the Speaker, by not accepting their resignations, has attempted coercing them into voting for the government in the trust vote.
Disqualification proceeding is mini-trial under the Constitution’s 10th Schedule, Rohatgi said, adding that resignation is different and its acceptance is based on single criterion — whether it is voluntary.
There is nothing to show the rebel MLAs conspired with BJP, the senior advocate said, and the disqualification proceeding is ‘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 House.
The bench further asked if all the disqualification pleas are on same grounds, to which Rohatgi replied “more or less same”.
“It is my fundamental right to do whatever I want to do and cannot be bound due to non-acceptance of resignation by speaker,” submitted Rohatgi.
Ten rebel MLAs had last week moved the apex court, alleging the Speaker was not accepting their resignations. They are: Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, BC Patil, ST Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, AH Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda. They have now been joined by five more — Anand Singh, K Sudhakar, N Nagaraj, Munirathna and Roshan Baig.
Also Watch: Upfront with Karan Thapar – Crisis in Congress: Interview with Abhishek Singhvi