K'taka crisis: SC restrains Speaker from proceeding further till July 16PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 12-07-2019 22:08 IST | Created: 12-07-2019 22:08 IST
The Supreme Court Friday restrained Karnataka Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar from taking any decision till Tuesday on the resignation and disqualification of 10 rebel MLAs of the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition. Citing "weighty issues that have arisen", the apex court said it will consider the matter on July 16 and ordered that the status quo as of Friday should be maintained.
The top court said an incidental question that would arise in the matter is the kind and extent of the directions that should be issued by a constitutional court to another constitutional functionary, which in the present case happens to be the Speaker of the Assembly. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, "In the meantime, the status quo as on today, with regard to the ten petitioners, be maintained, namely, that neither the issue of resignation nor the issue of disqualification will be decided by the Speaker."
The bench also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said, "This order has been passed by this court only to enable the court to decide the larger constitutional questions arising as indicated above. List on Tuesday, July 16, 2019." It noted that the issue of maintainability of the rebel MLAs' petition under Article 32 of the Constitution was raised by the speaker and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
"Apart from the question of maintainability of the writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, questions of substantial importance involving the provisions of Articles 164, 190, 361B and the provisions of the tenth schedule of the Constitution of India arise for consideration in this case," it said. The bench said it also needs to address as to whether the Speaker is obligated to decide on disqualification proceedings before accepting the resignations of MLAs.
"That apart, on the pleadings and arguments made, the question as to whether in a situation where resignations by MLAs as well as disqualification proceedings are pending against the same MLAs, the Speaker is obligated under the Constitution to decide the disqualification issue in the first instance," it said. The bench took into account the arguments by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, countering the Speaker's submission that the disqualification plea of the ruling coalition in the southern state had to be decided before taking up the issue of resignation of the lawmakers.
"Having regard to the weighty issues that have arisen and the incomplete state of facts, as indicated above, we are of the view that the matter should be considered by the court further on July 16, 2019," the bench said. The top court further said that the fact needs to be brought before the court by means of a proper affidavit that the disqualification of the eight MLAs (namely Pratap Gouda Patil, B C Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, ST Somashekhar, Byrathi Basavaraj, Anand Singh, R Roshan Baig and Muniratna) filed on July 10 has been returned by the Speaker.
Before passing the order, the bench asked Kumar's counsel A M Singhvi, "Is Speaker challenging the authority and power of the Supreme Court. Is it his case. "Are you challenging our power to issue directions to the Speaker? Are you saying that we should stay our hands so far as the Speaker is concerned? You are suggesting that he is duty-bound to decide on the disqualification prior to their resignations."
Singhvi replied: "Yes, this is what is my case." At the outset, Rohatgi alleged that the Speaker has not decided on the resignations of the lawmakers and the idea behind keeping the issue alive and pending was to bind them with the party whip and disqualify them from the membership if they violate the whip on the floor of the house.
He said the speaker questioned the MLAs' move to approach the apex court and rebuked them by saying "go to hell" in front of the media. Now the Karnataka government has asked the MLAs to attend the House and vote on the budget and if they violate the whip, they shall be punished with disqualification and their resignations would become infructuous, he said, adding that "this is why the resignations have been kept pending".
Singhvi said, "Speaker is a very senior member of the assembly and he knows the constitutional law. He can't be maligned and lampooned like this" and added that he was "duty-bound and empowered" to decide the issue of disqualification of the rebel MLAs first. Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the chief minister, said an "ex-parte" order was passed without issuing notice to the speaker on the petition by the MLAs in which several corruption allegations against the state government have been levelled.
The 10 rebel MLAs moved the apex court alleging that the Speaker was not accepting their resignations. They are: Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, A H Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda.