The Supreme Court is expected to hear on Tuesday a batch of petitions filed by 17 MLAs from Karnataka challenging their disqualification from the Assembly, NDTV reported. The resignations of these 17 leaders led to the collapse of the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government in July and the subsequent formation of the BJP government.

If the court upholds the disqualifications by former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, the MLAs’ hopes of becoming ministers in the BS Yediyurappa government will be dashed. The petitions urged the court to issue an appropriate writ, order or direction to quash and set aside the disqualification order dated July 28.

The rebel MLAs called the Speaker’s decisio “arbitrary, unreasonable and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which relates to fundamental rights”. They said it violated their Constitutional rights under Article 190.

They added that the order issued by Speaker was contradictory, illegal and in violation of the principles of natural justice. “It holds on the one hand that the petitioners appeared before him and submitted their resignations in person and on the other hand goes on to hold that the resignations are not voluntary and genuine,” the petition read.

The rebel MLAs asked the court to call records in connection with their resignation and disqualification proceedings. “The purported finding of the Speaker that the petitioners had been making efforts for defection of MLAs from the then ruling party by offering money, power is wholly erroneous and is based on no evidence,” they added.

Kumar had disqualified three rebel MLAs – R Shankar, Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumathahalli on July 25 till the end of the Assembly’s term in 2023. The rest – Pratap Gouda Patil, BC Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, ST Somashekar, Byrathi Basavaraj, Anand Singh, Roshan Baig, K Sudhakar, Muniratna, MTB Nagaraj and Shrimant Patil, and JD(S) legislators H Vishwanath, Narayan Gowda and Gopalaiah – were disqualified on July 28. It brought down the strength of the House to 207. The 14 former Congress MLAs were also expelled from the party for anti-party activities.

The legislators’ resignations led to the collapse of the 14-month old Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government. At a trust vote on July 23, the alliance received support from 99 MLAs while 105 legislators voted against it. The coalition had come to power in May 2018, when Karnataka ended up with a fractured mandate after the Assembly elections.

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