‘Forthwith’ Supreme Court order to Karnataka Speaker
The Supreme Court on Thursday morning directed Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar to decide on the resignations by 10 ruling alliance MLAs “forthwith, in the course of the remaining day” and place his decision before the bench on Friday.
In the afternoon, the court rejected an application from Kumar for a recall of the morning order but agreed to hear his plea on Friday jointly with the petition moved by the 10 rebel lawmakers.
One of his contentions was that an order to the Speaker to take a decision in a specified time impinged on his constitutional authority.
The morning order by the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose had included a directive to the 10 MLAs to meet the Speaker by 6pm to help him take his decision.
Following this the 10 MLAs, who had been cooped up in a Mumbai hotel since the weekend, flew to Bangalore and met Kumar in the evening. Kumar later told reporters the MLAs had handed in fresh quit letters and confirmed their resignations were genuine and voluntary.
The Speaker said he would examine the fresh resignation letters but did not clarify whether he would accept them on Thursday. Kumar had earlier rejected eight resignations on the ground of procedural errors.
Thirteen Congress MLAs and three Janata Dal Secular lawmakers have submitted their resignations since July 1 but only 10 of them had petitioned the apex court against the Speaker’s delay in deciding on them.
Also, two Independents have resigned as ministers and switched over to the BJP, leaving the Assembly numbers 117 to 107 in the ruling coalition’s favour. Acceptance of all the 10 resignations, therefore, would leave the government and the BJP tied at 107 (if the Speaker’s vote is included).
Asked about the remaining six rebel Congress MLAs, believed to be still in Karnataka, the Speaker told reporters he had given an appointment to three MLAs on Friday and two on Monday. But the five names he mentioned contained three from among the 10 who had just met him, leaving matters somewhat unclear.
The 10 MLAs flew back to Mumbai on Thursday night.
The apex court had asked the Karnataka DGP to provide them protection for the meeting with the Speaker, citing a formal request from the MLAs.