The Supreme Court on Saturday rejected a joint plea by the Congress and the JDS challenging the appointment of pro tem speaker K G Bopaiah for the floor test scheduled to take place in the Karnataka Assembly on Saturday evening. A bench comprising justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan heard the petition, which said the appointment of Bopaiah by Governor Vajubhai Vala was “unconstitutional”.
Let us have a look at the exchange of arguments which took place between Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal appear who appeared for post-poll allies Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), Attorney General KK Venugopal who appeared for the Centre and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Mukul Rohatgi who defended the BJP.
Kapil Sibal: He (Bopaiah) is the person against whom there have been orders by this court itself. He is a junior member. This creates inconsistency. The Congress had written to the Governor. It is an established principle that the senior-most member shall be appointed as the pro tem speaker. The convention formed by the apex court is laid down in two landmark judgments and also laid down in practices of the Parliament. (Lists names of pro tem speakers appointed in Lok Sabha). LIVE UPDATES
Justice Bobde: Vikhe Patil was not the senior-most. An MP from Rajasthan was senior to V Patil.
Kapil Sibal: He did not have a history like Bopaiah.
Abhishek Singhvi: Senior-most not innate but in the number of terms. (Bobde agrees)
Kapil Sibal: (Reminds court of Bopaiah’s antecedent. Reads out an old judgment against Bopaiah) We would have never come to the lordships if the protocol was followed.
Justice Bobde: If you want us to consider specifically this issue, then we must issue a notice to him and hear him too.
Justice Sikri: Yesterday (on Friday), you suggested the appointment of a pro tem speaker. We can’t appoint pro tem speaker.
Kapil Sibal: We didn’t know then that the convention would be violated.
Justice Bhushan: A pro tem speaker has all the powers of a speaker, till a speaker is appointed; however, the court maintains that he will only conduct the floor test on Saturday.
(Mukul Rohatgi calls it a politically-motivated petition)
Justice Sikri: If we agree with you and assure that this order and notification is only for taking oath, then who will conduct the floor test?
Kapil Sibal: Court can direct Governor to do the needful.
Justice Sikri: No, we can’t. You wanted us to order the Governor to appoint a pro tem speaker? It is not in the law to order a Governor.
Justice Bobde: You’re coming from a point of contradiction… (unclear)
Kapil Sibal: We are not casting any aspersions on him.
Tushar Mehta: The court has said that the floor test will be live, what more transparency do you want?
Justice Sikri: Tushar Mehta, thank you very much. This was a question in our mind also. There is live telecast. There cannot be more transparency.
Justice Bobde: Based on your statements, which channel is going to broadcast (the floor test)?
Tushar Mehta: All local channels.
Justice Bobde: Let it be all channels.
Mukul Rohatgi: It’s the hottest item in Karnataka now. If the channels don’t show this, what else are they going to show? Channels will get live feed.
Justice Sikri: We may place on record that there will be live telecast of the floor test. The secretary of the Legislature will also record the proceedings.
Abhishek Singhvi: With live feed, we hope and trust there will be fairness.
Justice Sikri: (To Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi) No other agenda will be taken.
Abhishek Singhvi: (On a lighter note) We have one more plea, I hope that we are not disturbed on a Sunday.
Justice Sikri: That is what we were discussing, Now, let us enjoy our holidays.