Karnataka MLA Disqualification case: Supreme Court to pronounce judgment on Wednesday

Karnataka MLA Disqualification case: Supreme Court to pronounce judgment on Wednesday

The Supreme Court will pronounce its judgment in the plea filed by the 17 disqualified MLAs from Karnataka challenging their disqualification from the Karnataka Assembly on November 13, Wednesday.

The judgment will be rendered by a three-judge bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna, and Krishna Murari. The Court had reserved orders in the case on October 25.

In July this year, petitions were filed by 17 ex-MLAs of Karnataka challenging their disqualification by the previous Speaker of the Assembly. The resignation of the 17 MLAs from the Congress and JD(S) parties eventually brought down the HD Kumaraswamy-led regime in Karnataka in July this year. They were thereafter disqualified on grounds of defection by former Speaker, KR Ramesh. The Supreme Court issued notice in the petitions in September this year.

The disqualified MLAs had initially prayed before the Court that they be allowed to contest in the bypolls held for the 15 Assembly seats in Karnataka.  Appearing on behalf of the MLAs, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi argued that disqualification smacks of malafides, and arbitrariness. Senior Advocates Aryama Sundaram, AK Ganguli, KV Viswanathan, Sajan Poovayya and V Giri also appeared for the MLAs.

Appearing for the respondents, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal had initially argued that the matter should be heard by a Constitution bench. It was also contended that the petitioners have no right to approach the Supreme Court in the matter. It was the case of the respondent side that since the MLAs had defected from the party, their disqualification was warranted. Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan also made arguments for the respondent side.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the present Speaker, VH Kageri. He argued on the larger and academic question of defection and said that the MLAs had the right to resignation and the same would not warrant for disqualification. The MLAs, in such a case, would have the right to face the electorate again and cannot be barred from contesting for the entire life of the Assembly. He suggested that the matter be sent to the Speaker’s office for reconsideration.

On Thursday, November 7, the Congress party, through Sibal, had sought to place on record transcript of an alleged speech delivered by present Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa. In this speech, he is allegedly heard to be saying that the defection of the MLAs was orchestrated at the behest of the present Union Home Minister Amit Shah. While the Court did not admit the audio clip or transcript as evidence,  Sibal was told that the Bench had taken note of the point he was making.

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