Karnataka crisis: SC orders status quo on MLAs’ resignations, will continue hearing on July 16

Prime News, National, Karnataka, New Delhi/Bengaluru, July 12:- The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to maintain the status quo on the resignations by rebel legislators from the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition and disqualification proceedings against them till it decides larger Constitutional matters.

A Supreme Court bench ordered the Karnataka Assembly Speaker not to take any action on the resignations of 10 rebel MLAs until it heard the matter again on July 16.

The Supreme Court was hearing pleas of 10 Karnataka MLAs who had resigned from the Congress and JD(S) in the past week. The resignation of the 10 MLAs, in addition to six other legislators, triggered a political crisis in the state. The MLAs claim Karnataka Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar had not acted on their resignations. The MLAs had petitioned the Supreme Court on Thursday, which directed them to appear before Kumar in person on Thursday itself.

The Supreme Court ruled that “status quo” be maintained on the resignations of the MLAs and no disqualification proceedings be initiated until “larger Constitutional issues” related to the case are decided by the apex court. The Supreme Court noted the pleas of the MLAs had raised the question of “whether Constitutional court can issue a direction to the speaker to decide on resignations.”

The Supreme Court bench was led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose.

Arguing for the MLAs, lawyer Mukul Rohtagi claimed the speaker was in contempt of court if he could not decide on the resignations. According to Bar and Bench, Rohtagi said the objective of the speaker was to “keep resignations pending and then disqualify them so that resignations become infructuous.”

Appearing for the Karnataka Assembly speaker, senior lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi cited the 1974 Amendment to prove that the speaker could conduct an inquiry to ascertain the resignations were genuine. Singhvi also claimed the MLAs had submitted resignations to avoid disqualification. Singhvi was quoted by Bar and Bench as saying “two of the MLAs resigned after disqualification proceedings commenced. Eight of them sent resignations before disqualification proceedings but did not appear in person with resignation letter”.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared on behalf of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, claimed the MLAs had sought an urgent hearing on the grounds the Karnataka government was in a minority and there was maladministration in the state. Dhavan declared the speaker was responsible for making an inquiry to ascertain that “resignation is voluntary and genuine.”

In a related development, a Congress activist filed a fresh plea in the Supreme Court, claiming the resignations of the rebel MLAs from the JD(S) and Congress was tantamount to defection. The ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition faces the threat of losing its majority in the Assembly if the resignations are accepted as its current tally is 116 in the 224-member House. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted by the Speaker, the tally will be reduced to 100. Ten of them had approached the Supreme Court. (MR, Inputs: Agencies)

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