The Supreme Court on Wednesday passed an interim order on petitions filed by 15 rebel MLAs from Karnataka. The court asked Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to decide on the resignations of the legislators within an appropriate time frame, and added that the MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in Assembly proceedings till a decision is taken. A trust vote is scheduled to be held in the Assembly on Thursday.
The legislators had filed two petitions last week against the Speaker’s delay in accepting their resignations. Last week, Ramesh Kumar had sought more time to go over most resignations and “seek clarity” on them before deciding whether he would accept them, while he had found faults in some of the other resignation letters. On Tuesday, Kumar said he would decide the matter on Wednesday, and asked the court to modify its earlier order directing a status quo in the case.
The first petition against Kumar was filed by 10 rebel MLAs, while another five had filed a plea later. Only one rebel MLA – Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy – is not party to the pleas in the top court.
5.37 pm: The Congress in Karnataka has termed the Supreme Court order as a “bad judgement”. “Supreme Court order seems perfectly coordinated to help the rebel MLAs to violate the whip,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dinesh Gundu Rao tweets. “It has set a wrong precedent as the value of the Whip as per 10th schedule of the Constitution is now redundant. An extraordinary order indeed!”
4.07 pm: BJP leaders leaders KG Bopaiah and MLA Madhuswamy are waiting at the office of Speaker Ramesh Kumar’s secretary to meet the Speaker, reports News9. Coalition leaders are holding a meeting with the Speaker at present.
3.30 pm: Voters have filed complaints against “missing” MLAs ST Somashekhar, Munirathna, and Byrathi Basavaraj, according to News9. Separately, Congress workers have also filed a complaint against MLA Mahesh Kumathalli, claiming he has been missing for 10 days.
2.41 pm: BJP National General Secretary P Muralidhar Rao tells PTI that a BJP government is expected to take charge in Karnataka next week. He says the HD Kumaraswamy government will lose the trust vote in the Assembly on Thursday. “We will not shy away from our responsibility,” adds Rao.
1.57 pm: Surjewala says the Supreme Court should recall that in May 2016 it struck down an “illegal attempt of BJP in Uttarakhand to form government”. “Tragic that SC did not appreciate the context [and] designed history of defections to subvert democratic mandates by Modi government over last five years.”
1.55 pm: Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala says the Supreme Court order sets a “terrible precedent”. “SC’s order nullifying the whip [and] by extension, operation of Constitution’s 10th Schedule to punish MLAs betraying the public mandate, sets a terrible judicial precedent!” he says. “Blanket protection to MLAs, who are driven not by ideology but by far baser concerns, is unheard of.”
1.50 pm: Karnataka Congress Working President Eshwar Khandre welcomes the Supreme Court order. He says he has faith that the rebel MLAs will return to the party and the coalition government will pass the floor test on Thursday, News9 reports.
1.38 pm: BJP leader KS Eshwarappa says the people of Karnataka had chosen BJP in the Assembly elections by voting them in in 104 seats, but the “Congress went against the people’s will and formed a coalition with the JD(S)”. He says the Supreme Court’s verdict was in favour of the people of Karnataka.
1.30 pm: Congress leader DK Shivakumar says the Supreme Court’s “landmark judgement” has given strength to democratic process, reports ANI. “Some BJP friends are trying to misguide that whip is not valid but the party can issue a whip and take necessary action as per anti-defection law.”
1.28 pm: Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy meets Congress leaders in Bengaluru, reports ANI.
12.37 pm: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar says ensuring members are present in the House is not his job, reports News18. When asked if he had taken a decision on the resignation of the rebel MLAs, Kumar says: “...the Supreme Court has placed its implicit faith in me and has advised me to behave responsibly in view of the privileges conferred in the office of the Speaker. I’ll try to live up to the confidence of the Supreme Court.”
12.30 pm: Rebel MLAs, who moved to Mumbai after resigning from the Assembly, say there is no question of going to the Assembly, ANI reports. “We honour Supreme Court’s verdict,” they say. “We all are together. We stand by our decision.”
12.27 pm: BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao says the Supreme Court in its final judgement will have to create timelines for Speakers to decide a matter be it Assembly or Parliament, ANI reports. “If required we’ll look at need for amending the Act so that Speakers can’t go by their own whims and fancies.”
11.41 am: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar says trust vote will be held according to schedule. “I will act in an impartial way,” News9 quotes him as saying.
11.21 am: BS Yeddyurappa says Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has lost his mandate and must resign tomorrow. “I welcome SC’s decision, it is the victory of Constitution and democracy, a moral victory for rebel MLAs,” ANI quotes him as saying. “It is only an interim order, SC will decide powers of Speaker in future.”
11.18 am: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar tells ANI that he will “take a decision that in no way will go contrary to the Constitution, the court and the Lokpal”.
11.16 am: BJP leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar tells reporters that HD Kumaraswamy should step down immediately and not wait for the trust vote, according to ANI.
11.12 am: Former Karnataka chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader BS Yeddyurappa says the HD Kumaraswamy government “will not last because they do not have the numbers”, ANI reports.
11.11 am: Mukul Rohatgi adds that the three-line whip issued to the MLAs to attend the Assembly on Thursday “is not operative in view of the judgement”, reports ANI.
11.09 am: Lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, who represented the dissident legislators, says the 15 MLAs have been given the liberty by the court to decide if they want to participate in the trust vote, reports ANI.
11.04 am: The court order means the dissident MLAs can skip the trust vote in Karnataka Assembly on Thursday without facing the threat of disqualification, reports Live Law.
10.44 am: The top court says larger legal questions need to be decided first, and the matter deserves an answer only at a later stage.
10.42 am: Supreme Court passes interim order, says it is imperative to maintain constitutional balance, reports Bar and Bench. The court asks Speaker to decide on the resignations of the 15 MLAs within appropriate time frame, and says the legislators cannot be compelled to participate in Assembly proceedings till the Speaker takes a decision. There is no fixed time limit fixed for the Speaker to take a decision on the matter.
10.35 am: The court has assembled to pass the verdict, reports News9.
10.30 am: BJP leader and former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa says he is confident the current government will lose the trust vote on Thursday. He says he is awaiting the court’s decision, but adds that the rebel MLAs “will not be affected”, reports ANI.
10 am: The Supreme Court verdict is expected around 10.30 am.
9.45 am: The rebel MLAs are in Delhi for the Supreme Court verdict, reports News9. They have been in Mumbai since handing in their resignations and have refused to meet representatives of the state government.
9.30 am: Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar summons Hoskote and Chikkaballapura MLAs MTB Nagaraj and Sudhakar K in connection with the resignations, reports News9.
9.15 am: On Tuesday, the Speaker’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the Supreme Court that resigning could not be an escape route to avoid disqualification. The rebel leaders’ advocate Mukul Rohatgi, however, countered this by saying that the coalition government planned to get the MLAs disqualified by issuing them a new whip during Thursday’s trust vote in the state Assembly.
Rohatgi said one of the MLAs who received a disqualification notice, Umesh Jadhav, had resigned on March 20 and his resignation had been accepted. “Therefore, Speaker himself has in past accepted resignations from MLAs facing disqualification notice,” Rohatgi had pointed out, asking about the grounds for disqualification.
9 am: The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government will try to win over the rebel legislators till the trust vote is held in the Assembly on July 18.
If the MLAs do not return to their parties before the trust vote, the government will have the support of only 100 MLAs, while the Bharatiya Janata Party will have the support of 107 MLAs. If the MLAs’ resignations are accepted, the size of the Assembly will drop and the majority mark will drop to 104. The halfway mark is currently 113.