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.
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.
Meanwhile, the Monsoon Session of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly began on Friday. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy sought permission to prove his majority in the House.
Here are the top updates of the day:
8.25 pm: Lawyers appearing for Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli request documents from the Speaker’s office regarding their disqualification notice, News9 reports.
8 pm: Rebel MLAs will visit Shirdi and Shani Shingnapur temples on Saturday, News 9 reports.
7.44 pm: Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar has told the Supreme Court that the allegation by rebel MLAs that he had made himself unavailable was “fallacious”, PTI reports. In an affidavit, he says that none of these MLAs submitted the resignation in person or by hand to him.
7.17 pm: Karnataka Congress leader Siddaramaiah will contact the rebel legislators over phone to convince them to withdraw their resignations, News9 reports.
7.08 pm: Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs reach Golfshire resort in Devanahalli. MLAs are scheduled to stay at resort till Monday. Kumaraswamy will talk to the legislators tonight.
6.54 pm: Some Congress MLAs are likely to be shifted to the Taj Vivanta to avoid poaching, News 9 reports.
6.38 pm: “Why is BJP herding its MLAs to a resort now?” Janata Dal (Secular) tweets. “We will not stoop to your level and poach MLAs. Why are you afraid of the floor test, when you claim to have a majority? The cowardice of BJP is at display! HD Kumaraswamy will win the confidence vote by a huge margin. Wait n watch!”
6.30 pm: The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition is planning to approach four MLAs, reports News9. Kumaraswamy is planning to pacify Ramalinga Reddy, Anand Singh and Roshan Baig. He has also been assured that Munirathna will be convinced to take back his resignation.
5.50 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claims the BJP uses money to bring state government, reports ANI. “We saw that in the North East as well.”
5.47 pm: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh claims the BJP made so much money during demonetisation that it was now buying MLAs, reports PTI. “The condition is such that the MLAs are being bought as if goods are being purchased from a market,” he says. “I strongly condemn it.”
Singh says the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh was safe saying that Chief Minister Kamal Nath has the support of 121 MLAs.
5.44 pm: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar will decide on date and time for floor test after consulting BJP’s Karnataka chief BS Yeddyurappa, reports News9. Yeddyurappa was absent from the business advisory committee meet.
5.40 pm: BJP MLAs leave for a private resort in Bengaluru after the Assembly proceedings, reports ANI.
5.35 pm: Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy meets Congress leaders KC Venugopal and Dinesh Gundu Rao in Bengaluru, reports News9.
5.25 pm: Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa says the Supreme Court order is favourable for the rebel MLAs and it came as a relief, reports News18. “We will wait for July 16.”
5.23 pm: Former Karnataka Chief Minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah says the BJP is afraid of moving a vote of confidence motion, reports ANI. “We are confident that is why we are moving vote of confidence motion,” he says. “BJP is afraid because they know there are black sheep in their party.”
4.37 pm: Congress MLA Tanveer Sait says Congress-JD(S) coalition has the numbers to retain the government in Karnataka, reports The Indian Express. “The coordination between the two parties is now even better than before,” he says.
4.20 pm: Three rebel MLAs Narayana Gowda, Anand Singh and Pratap Gowda fail to appear before Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, reports News9. The speaker had issued notice to discuss the MLAs’ resignations.
Asked whether he would still start proceedings on the resignation by the three MLAs, Kumar says, “I will start the process if they come. If they don’t come I will sleep at home. That’s it.”
4.02 pm: BJP MLA Nimma Sureshkumar says the trust motion takes precedence. “...so latest by Monday morning HD Kumaraswamy has asked for the trust vote, so the Speaker must grant him that,” Sureshkumar says, according to News18. “No fear within BJP of cross-voting.”
3.56 pm: BJP moves its MLAs to Ramada Hotel in Bengaluru, reports ANI.
3.54 pm: Congress leaders KJ George, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Zameer Ahmed and Parameshwar Naik arrive at Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah’s office at the Vidhana Soudha. Siddaramaiah will chair meeting shortly, reports News9.
3.50 pm: Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar says a slot for the trust vote would be allotted whenever Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy opts for it, PTI reports. “The chief minister has spoken his mind that he would not cling to power amid the confusion,” Kumar says. “He said he will seek the trust of the House. Whenever he tells me that he wants to move the trust motion, the very next day I will put it in the business of the day.”
3.06 pm: Rebels MLAs in Mumbai visit the Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi. “We are together and all are united,” they say, according to News18. “We tendered our resignation and came to Mumbai. Now, Supreme Court’s order is till Tuesday, we will honour it.”
3.03 pm: The BJP is likely to shift its MLAs to a resort in Yelahanka, reports News9.
3.01 pm: The Congress will move its MLAs to Clarks Exotica Convention Resorts in Bengaluru after the Assembly proceedings on Friday, ANI reports.
2.07 pm: Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa walks out of the House after Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy seeks a trust vote, reports News9.
2.03 pm: Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Working President Eshwar Khandre says all Congress MLAs will attend the Monsoon Session, reports The Indian Express. He says strict action will be taken against those who skip the session.
1.44 pm: “Today there are many things happening in our state’s politics because of the decisions of many MLAs, which has created a difficult situation,” Kumaraswamy says in the Assembly, according to News18. “I am not here to sit in power, I appeal to you that in light of the developments I want to move a trust motion.”
1.19 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy seeks permission to prove his majority in the House.
1.04 pm: The Supreme Court will next hear the case on July 16. Neither will resignations be accepted till then nor will disqualification proceedings be initiated.
1.02 pm: Meanwhile, the Monsoon Session begins at the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.
12.58 pm: Supreme Court orders status quo on the resignations by rebel MLAs as well as disqualification proceedings against them, Bar and Bench reports. It says larger constitutional issues have come up. “One important question is whether Constitutional court can issue direction to Speaker to decide on resignations,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi says while reading out the order.
12.52 pm: In conclusion, Dhavan says the court cannot “set deadlines for Speaker to perform his constitutional functions”, according to Live Law.
12.50 pm: Dhavan adds that the Speaker has said he will decide on the resignations at the earliest.
12.45 pm: Dhavan claims the dissident MLAs who resigned are involved in multiple scams, according to News9.
12.42 pm: “This is an overtly political petition,” Rajeev Dhavan says, according to Live Law.
12.40 pm: Dhavan says the Supreme Court should not have taken up the matter directly, according to News9. He adds that Governor Vajubhai Vala has no locus standi in the case.
12.38 pm: It is the Speaker’s responsibility to confirm that the resignations are genuine and voluntary, Dhavan argues in the Supreme Court.
12.37 pm: Dhavan tells the court that the dissident MLAs have urged for urgency on the argument that the Karnataka government is in minority. But Kumaraswamy enjoys a majority, he says.
“On what basis is Supreme Court being asked to interfere? That this government is in minority, there is maladministration,” Dhavan says, according to Bar and Bench. “So they [rebel MLAs] say please assist us, since this government has failed.”
12.30 pm: Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan argues for Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.
12.29 pm: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asks Singhvi if his case is that the Speaker is constitutionally bound to decide on disqualification of the MLAs before their resignations. Singhvi says yes, according to Bar and Bench.
Singhvi says two MLAs sent their resignations after disqualification proceedings began, and eight before they began. But these eight MLAs did not appear in person with their resignation letters, he tells the court.
Singhvi also refers to a judgement that courts cannot direct the Speaker to decide on disqualification proceedings “in a particular manner and within a time frame”.
12.27 pm: MLAs Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, BC Patil, ST Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, AH Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda have approached the top court.
12.14 pm: Singhvi tells the court: “By way of 1974 Amendment, it has been made clear that resignations cannot be merely accepted and inquiry has to be conducted to ascertain if resignations are genuine.”
He adds that the intent of the 10 MLAs in submitting their resignations is to avoid disqualification.
12.12 pm: Abhishek Manu Singhvi begins arguing on behalf of the Speaker.
12.11 pm: Rohtagi says the resignation letters are only one-liners and shouldn’t take very long to decide, according to Live Law.
12.10 pm: “If he [Speaker] can’t decide on resignations, then it is a brazen case of contempt,” Rohatgi adds, according to Bar and Bench.
12.09 pm: Speaker is “riding on two horses”, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi tells the Supreme Court, according to Bar and Bench. “He [Speaker] says Supreme Court is nobody to give me direction,” Rohatgi says. “He also says he has to study the resignations.”
The matter of resignations have nothing to do with the Speaker’s power in the Assembly, Rohatgi submits. He adds that the Speaker has not yet decided on the resignations, and his objective is to keep them pending “and then disqualify them so that resignations become infructuous”.
12.05 pm: Supreme Court resumes hearing on rebel MLAs petition. Mukul Rohatgi makes submissions for rebel MLAs, while Abhishek Manu Singhvi will argue for Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar and Rajeev Dhavan for Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy
12.02 pm: MLAs arrive at the Vidhana Soudha in Karnataka. The Assembly session is expected to start soon.
11.58 am: The Supreme Court adjourns hearing in the rebel MLAs petition minutes after it begins as the Speaker’s counsel was not available, News9 reports.
11.53 am: Karnataka Youth Congress leader Anil Chacko Joseph, in his plea in the Supreme Court, says the resignations of the rebel MLAs were a kind of defection, PTI reports. The MLAs were “bought or persuaded to resign by payment of enormous sums of money”, he says in the petition.
The Supreme Court earlier in the day allowed Chacko to be heard as an intervenor in the matter when it hears the petition of the 10 rebel MLAs.
11.49 am: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar will meet three MLAs – Congress’ Anand Singh and Pratapgouda Patil, and Janata Dal (Secular)’s Narayana Gowda – at 3 pm on Friday, according to News9.
11.46 am: BJP’s Karnataka chief BS Yeddyurappa says the party will decide its next course of action after the Supreme Court hearing. He adds that the BJP will attend the Monsoon Session in the Assembly and will give a whip to its MLAs.
11.45 am: The Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs who have submitted their resignations are Narayana Gowda, Gopalaiah and AH Vishwanath.
11.44 am: The first to resign was Congress MLA Anand Singh. This was followed by senior leaders Ramalinga Reddy, BC Patil and Ramesh Jarkiholi. Other Congress legislators who have rebelled are Pratapgauda Patil, Shivram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumatahalli, ST Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraj, Muniratna Naidu, SN Subba Reddy, MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar.
11.43 am: Of the 16 MLAs who have resigned, 13 are from the Congress and three are from the Janata Dal (Secular).
11.42 am: The Congress and 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, which includes 78 Congress members, 37 JD(S) and one from Bahujan Samaj Party. If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted by the Speaker, the tally will be reduced to 100.
11.38 am: The Monsoon Session of the Karnataka Assembly is set to begin soon.
11.35 am: Reports claim that SR Mahesh met BJP leaders on Kumaraswamy’s instructions, allegedly to mislead the dissident MLAs.
11.30 am: Yeddyurappa says Tourism Minister and JD(S) leader SR Mahesh’s meeting with BJP leaders was merely coincidental, according to News9.
11.22 am: BJP leader Renukacharya claims that Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is an expert at spreading lies and dismisses rumours that BJP members are joining the JD(S).
11.20 am: Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa rules out any possibilities of forming a government with the Janata Dal (Secular), according to News9. He says the BJP has already failed after forming government with JDS once.
11.17 am: PWD Minister HD Revanna says the people of Karnataka need his brother, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, News9 reports.
11.15 am: Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy tells Janata Dal (Secular) leaders that the Congress is “trying to save the government” and that the two parties must join hands, according to News9.
11.12 am: The petition filed by the Karnataka Youth Congress leader in the Supreme Court says the rebel MLAs have indulged in anti-party activities, News9 reports. The court agrees to hear the plea.
11.10 am: MLAs of the JD(S), who were staying at a resort in Devanahalli near Bengaluru, leave for the Vidhana Soudha to attend the Assembly session.
11 am: A Karnataka Youth Congress leader moves the Supreme Court seeking to intervene in the plea filed by the 10 rebel MLAs, PTI reports.
10.15 am: Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the rebel MLAs in the Supreme Court, tells ANI: “We will ask the court to implement its order so that the Speaker takes a decision as soon as possible. If all MLAs appeared before him, gave affidavits and moved SC that they want to resign, what further verification is required, I don’t understand.”
9.07 am: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar has asked three of the five MLAs whose resignations were in the prescribed format to meet him at 4 pm, reports ANI.
9.05 am: The Monsoon Session of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly will begin on Friday. The rebel MLAs who met Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar in Bengaluru on Thursday evening have returned to their hotel in Mumbai.
9 am: Here are the top updates from Thursday:
- The Supreme Court allowed the rebel MLAs to meet the Assembly Speaker in the evening to tender their resignations, and asked the Speaker to decide on the resignations on the same day. Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar moved the court hours later, seeking more time to decide on the resignations, but the court refused to hear his plea urgently. The court will continue to hear the MLAs’ plea on Friday morning.
- The rebel MLAs travelled from Mumbai to Bengaluru to meet Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar as directed by the Supreme Court. KR Ramesh Kumar held a press conference after meeting them, and said he needed time to scrutinise and get clarity on the resignation letters before accepting them. He said he wanted to examine the resignations of the MLAs “all night” to ensure they are genuine and voluntary. The rebel MLAs returned to their Mumbai hotel at night.
- The rebel MLAs said they would not change their decision to resign, and claimed the BJP was not behind their resignations. Meanwhile, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy rejected calls for him to quit, and asked: “Why should I resign? What is the necessity for me to resign now?” He said that in 2009-’10, then Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa of the Bharatiya Janata Party had not resigned when 18 MLAs had turned against him.