The Supreme Court on Tuesday decided to wait before hearing a petition filed by two Karnataka MLAs seeking a floor test in the state Assembly as the Speaker expressed hope that the voting could take place by the evening. The court said it would hear the plea on Wednesday if attempts to hold the trust vote fails again, Bar and Bench reported.
The Assembly is currently discussing the confidence motion moved by the government.
The two independent MLAs – H Nagesh and R Shankar – claimed that a minority government was being allowed to continue in office. They had withdrawn their support to the state government earlier this month.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi recorded the submissions made by Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar that the Assembly session was in progress, and that he was optimistic that the trust vote could happen in the next two days. The bench refused to pass any orders after Kumar insisted that there had been longer debates on trust votes before this, and also assured it would take place either by the end of the day or by Wednesday after debate, The Economic Times reported.
However, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the two independent lawmakers, insisted that the court give orders to hold the floor test by 6 pm on Tuesday. “I hope the Speaker realises what his position is, what the Constitution obliges him to do,” Rohatgi was quoted as saying by ANI after the adjournment.
“They are playing ducks and drakes,” Rohatgi added. “Everyday they make noise they will do trust vote, but they don’t do it.”
On Monday, Kumar had insisted that the trust vote should not be delayed further but Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy sought time till Wednesday. The Assembly was adjourned close to midnight, with the Speaker setting a new deadline of 6 pm on Tuesday for the trust vote.
The petition by the lawmakers named Kumar, Kumaraswamy and the Centre as respondents. “It is submitted that the actions of the respondents are leading to a constitutional crisis in the state of Karnataka,” their petition had said.
Nagesh and Shankar sought enforcement of their fundamental rights that they said had been “violated with impunity”. The MLAs added that “irreparable harm and injury” would be caused to them if the top court did not grant them interim relief.
On Friday, the Karnataka Assembly failed to meet two deadlines – one at 1.30 pm and the other at 6 pm – given by Governor Vajubhai Vala to complete the trust vote. Kumaraswamy and Pradesh Congress Committee President Dinesh Gundu Rao filed petitions in the Supreme Court, seeking clarity on its order that the 15 rebel MLAs from the ruling coalition who have stepped down since the start of the month cannot be forced to vote on the confidence motion.
The ruling coalition’s strength in the 225-member Assembly is 118, including the rebel legislators. With the support of H Nagesh and R Shankar, the Opposition BJP has the backing of 107 MLAs.