The Supreme Court Thursday asked the ten Congress and JD(S) rebel MLAs from Karnataka to appear before the Assembly Speaker at 6 pm today. The court added that the Speaker should take a decision on their resignation applications today itself.
A bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said it will hear the matter again on Friday.
Rohatgi who represented the ten MLAs who had moved the court against the delay by the Speaker in accepting their resignations said the number of those who wanted to resign had gone up to 15. “But we can take note of only 10,” replied the CJI.
Rohatgi said it was surprising that the Speaker was not accepting their resignations. The CJI was quick to retort and said, “nothing surprises us”.
The court also asked the state police chief to provide security to the MLAs after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said one MLA was manhandled when he went to the Assembly building Wednesday.
In their petition, the legislators accused the Speaker of acting in a “partisan and mala fide manner…to protect the government in power which is in a minority”.
The petition further said that “Chief Minister despite being reduced to a minority is refusing to seek a vote of confidence.” It also said that “as a result of the concerted acts between the speaker and the govt., a minority government which does not enjoy the confidence of the House, continues in power illegally.”
The MLAs attached the H D Kumaraswamy government and said their resignation “was on the issue of principle and in public interest.”
“Since the time Sh. H. D. Kumaraswamy took oath as a Chief Minister, the administration has come to a standstill and maladministration is writ large”, the MLAs said adding that the state government had also been rocked by various scandals.
In the IMA Ponzi scam, thousands of people had been cheated of their hard-earned money “and yet the main accused has been allowed to leave the country”, the petitioners said adding that “the allegations are that senior functionaries of the government have been involved in the said scam”.
The MLAs also cited the JSW land scam, “wherein land has been given at through away rates to industrialists against the public interest”.
The Congress-JD(S) coalition has also been rocked by inner contradictions “and the government has never remained stable”, the petition said adding that consequently, the coalition “lost miserably” in the recently held Lok Sabha polls.
“Being fed up with the maladministration, the petitioners who belong to Indian National Congress (INC) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) tendered their resignations to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly on 6.7.19. It is pertinent to state that in all 14 MLA’s of Congress and JDS have resigned as on date”, the petition added.
Pointing out that the Speaker had evaded accepting their resignation, the MLAs said the Congress party had filed a petition before the Speaker seeking their disqualification.
The “disqualification proceedings are completely illegal”, the plea said adding the MLAs have been asked to be present in person before the Speaker on July 12, the day the Assembly session is to begin.
The MLAs claimed that this was intended to disqualify them. “The whole idea is to disqualify the Petitioners and under threat of disqualification allow the minority Govt. to function without the support of the majority in the house”, the legislators said and added they “have resigned voluntarily and without any fear”.
The rebel MLAs further contended that the Speaker’s actions “are arbitrary and unreasonable are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”.
“It is stated that the MLAs disenchanted with the mal-administration under the present dispensation wish to resign. The same is their fundamental right to so as a citizen and as a public representative. The resignation was on the issue of principle and in public interest. However, the Hon’ble Speaker acting in an arbitrary and illegal manner is seeking to frustrate the said right in favour of the Petitioner. Denial of such a right is destructive of the principles of democracy and hence violative of the basic structure of the Constitution”, the plea said.
On Wednesday, two more MLAs quit the coalition, taking the total numbers of legislators who have quit to 16. If the resignations are accepted by the Speaker, the strength of the coalition will fall to 101 compared to the BJP’s 105 plus two Independents clearing the way for the BJP to seek a trust vote.
Congress leader D K Shivakumar, sent to negotiate with the rebels, was stopped from entering the hotel in Mumbai where the MLAs are staying in and was packed off to Bengaluru.