New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the 15 rebel Karnataka Congress-JD(S) MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the trust vote in the Assembly tomorrow.
“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 to opt to remain out of the same,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose said in its verdict.
However, the court observed that Karnataka Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar cannot be forced to take a decision within a time frame on the resignations of the rebel MLAs.
“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 time frame as the Speaker may consider appropriate,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the MLAs, told reporters, “In view of trust vote kept for tomorrow, the Supreme Court has said two important things – the 15 MLAs will not be compelled to attend the House tomorrow. All the 15 MLAs are given the liberty that they may or may not go to the House tomorrow.”
He also said, “The three-line whip issued to the rebel MLAs to attend the House tomorrow is not operative in view of the Supreme Court judgement. Secondly, the Speaker has been given time to decide on the resignations as and when he wants to decide.”
The Speaker welcomed the apex court’s order.
The court had earlier taken up the petitions of 10 dissident MLAs and directed the Speaker to maintain status quo on their resignation and disqualification till July 16.
The plea was filed by Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar and Mahesh Kumathalli from Congress and K Gopalaiah, H D Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda from JD(S).
Five other rebel MLAs – K Sudhakar, Roshan Baig, MTB Nagaraj, Muniratna and Anand Singh – had approached the court on July 13 contending they had resigned “voluntarily” and that their resignation must be accepted by the Speaker.
The 13-month-old Congress-JD(S) government had slumped into crisis after the MLAs resigned from the membership of the Assembly earlier this month.