The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of a petition filed by two Karnataka MLAs to direct the state Assembly Speaker to have a floor test in the House immediately. The two MLAs wished to withdraw the petition now that the floor test had been held, but the court refused to pass an order until the senior counsels for both sides came for the hearing.
On Tuesday, the top court had decided to wait before hearing the plea as Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar expressed hope that the trust vote would take place by the end of the day. The voting took place on Tuesday evening, and the 14-month Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government in the state lost its majority. Soon after, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy resigned as chief minister.
The coalition received 99 votes, while the BJP secured 105 votes. The two Independent MLAs who had filed the plea – H Nagesh and R Shankar – were not present in the Assembly.
On Wednesday, the counsel for the two MLAs told a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose that they wanted to withdraw the petition. However, the bench said that they will pass appropriate orders and dispose of the petition only in the presence of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, counsel for the two MLAs, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who was counsel for the Speaker.
“Where is Mr Rohatgi, Mr Singhvi? We will pass orders only in their presence,” Gogoi was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.
Chief Minister Kumaraswamy had offered to move a confidence motion on July 12, but no voting took place until Tuesday as the state government was trying to delay it. On July 21, the two MLAs moved the Supreme Court, urging it to direct Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to complete floor test before 5 pm on July 22. They had claimed that a minority government was being allowed to continue in office.
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.
Nagesh and Shankar earlier supported the coalition government in the Assembly, and were given ministerial posts in June. However, they withdrew support earlier this month after 16 MLAs of the Congress and JD(S) submitted their resignation, sending the state into a political crisis.