The Karnataka High Court on Monday ruled that Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Member of Legislative Council AH Vishwanath was not eligible to become a minister because of his disqualification as an MLA under the anti-defection law in 2019, Live Law reported.
Vishwanath was among the MLAs from the Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress. They had switched over to the BJP in 2019, which led to the collapse of the HD Kumaraswamy-led government in the state.
The court’s order was based on a batch of petitions challenging the induction of Vishwanath and two other defectors – R Shankar and MTB Nagaraj – into the state’s Council of Ministers.
The Karnataka High Court, however, did not pass orders against Shankar and Nagaraj. The bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty held that Shankar and Nagaraj had been elected to the Legislative Council unlike Vishwanath, who was nominated by Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
The bench pointed out that a nomination cannot be considered an election under constitutional provisions, The Hindu reported.
It added that a disqualified politician can be appointed as a minister after getting re-elected to either of the Houses, or after the term of the house expires. “Ex-facie disqualification of AH Vishwanath will continue till expiry of term of Karnataka Legislative Assembly,” the court said, according to Bar and Bench.
Sixteen of the 17 disqualified Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators in Karnataka had joined the BJP on November 14, 2019. This happened a day after the Supreme Court allowed them to contest bye-elections in December.
In February, Yediyurappa inducted 10 new ministers into his Cabinet, all of them defectors from the Congress and JD(S).