Seventeen former legislators in Karnataka moved the Supreme Court on Friday, asking it to defer next month’s Assembly bye-polls till the top court delivers its verdict on their disqualification, reported PTI. The top court asked the MLAs’ counsel to file a new application on the matter.
The bye-elections were scheduled to take place on October 21 but the Election Commission postponed it to December 5 since the former MLAs’ plea in the Supreme Court challenging their disqualification is pending. On October 25, the Supreme Court reserved its judgement on the matter.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who represented the petitioners, told the judges that his clients would not be able to file their nomination because of the pending verdict.
During the hearing on October 25, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, arguing against the petition, had said it should be sent to a Constitution bench of the court. “What is the meaning of all this if a legislator is disqualified but he is allowed to fight the election?” Sibal asked. “If that is allowed it gives impetus to such conduct as in this case.” Sibal said that while the elections can be held, they should not be postponed merely because disqualified legislators want to contest. He argued that since the right to be elected was a statutory right, the MLAs cannot approach the Supreme Court asking for permission to contest the bye-polls.
In July, former Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had rejected the former MLAs’ resignations. However, they did not return to the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) fold, leading to the collapse of the government of HD Kumaraswamy. Following this, Bharatiya Janata Party state chief BS Yediyurappa was elected the chief minister. In September, the chief minister said that the disqualified MLAs will be given tickets “if they want”.