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Top court’s ruling puts HDK on back foot ahead of trust vote | India News


NEW DELHI: It is disadvantage Congress-JD(S) in Karnataka as the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the 15 rebel MLAs could not be compelled to take part in Thursday’s trust vote in the assembly, blunting consequences of possible defiance of whip by the rebels who are holed up in Mumbai.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose did a balancing act and refused to issue any direction to Speaker K R Ramesh on deciding the resignations tendered by the rebels. In doing so, it overrode its July 11 order asking the Speaker to decide on the resignations of 10 MLAs immediately. Later, five more MLAs joined the 10 rebels and sought a direction to the Speaker to accept their resignations.
The SC decision reduces the number of Congress-JD(S) MLAs to 101 (including one nominated), less than the majority mark of 105 without the 16 rebels. BJP on its own strength has 105 MLAs, enough to form a government and also has the support of two independents. Though there was some uncertainty over the modalities of the trust vote, and Congress said the powers of the Speaker had been upheld, chief minister H D Kumaraswamy seems on thin ice.
The view in the BJP camp was that delaying tactics will not help the Congress-JD(S) coalition as the rebels have made up their minds not to vote for the state government. There was also clarity that BJP will stake claim once the coalition is voted out — a result the party feels is inescapable.
The SC said it would decide at a later time the weighty question of if MLAs have submitted resignations prior to initiation of disqualification proceedings against them under Tenth Schedule of Constitution, which proceeding — resignation or disqualification — should take precedence before the Speaker, or should he take up both simultaneously?
However, it felt an interim order was urgently needed given the involvement of competing rights of parties in the litigation before the apex court. The SC said, “In these circumstances, the competing claims have to be balanced by an appropriate interim order, which according to us, should be to permit the Speaker of the House to decide on the request for resignations by the 15 members of the House within such timeframe as the Speaker may consider appropriate.
“We also take the view that in the present case, the discretion of the Speaker while deciding the above issue should not be fettered by any direction or observation of this court and the Speaker should be left free to decide the issue in accordance with Article 190 (of the Constitution) read with Rule 202 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly. The order of the Speaker on the resignation issue, as and when passed, be placed before the court.”
The bench then clarified, “Until further orders, the 15 members of the assembly ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or opt to remain out of the same.”
The SC order puts the ruling coalition in a quandary as it dispels the coercive element in the disqualification proceedings initiated by the Speaker which could have annulled the effect of resignation of the 15 MLAs that reduces the ruling side to a minority. The Speaker had initiated disqualification proceedings to deny the rebels the profitable proposition of bringing the government down and becoming ministers in a new dispensation led by BJP.
Acceptance of the rebel MLAs’ resignations would have made them eligible to be ministers in the new government. However, if they get disqualified, they will have to get re-elected to the assembly to be fit to be part of the council of ministers in the new dispensation.
Ahead of the trust vote, which the Spealer could postpone by citing unruly behaviour of MLAs during the debate, the ruling coalition may employ extraordinary measures to either win back the rebel MLAs or disqualify them to make them ineligible to reap the benefits of rebellion with ministerial posts.

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