Monday, 30th October 2017

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Karnataka crisis: Supreme Court refuses urgent trust-vote hearing

It was alleged that taking advantage of this logjam, the government was taking several executive decisions

By Our Legal Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 23.07.19, 4:23 AM
  • Updated 23.07.19, 4:23 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Kumaraswamy at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore on Monday. (PTI)

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear immediately a petition seeking a directive to Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to forthwith hold a floor test to prove his majority.

The petition was moved by two Independent MLAs who contended that the chief minister may stage-manage his own ill-health by getting hospitalised to avoid the trust vote.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi declined the plea for urgent hearing. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi pleaded that the petition filed by the two legislators, R. Shankar and H. Nagesh, be taken up on Monday itself although it was not listed for formal hearing.

“Impossible, we have never done this before,” the bench, which included Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, told Rohatgi when he insisted that the matter be takenup “at the end of the board”.

The counsel then said the matter should be taken up on priority at least on Tuesday. But CJI said “we will see” and proceeded to hear other matters.

The joint petition filed by the two legislators stated that Karnataka, in recent few days, had plunged into a political crisis and about 16 MLAs belonging to the ruling coalition have tendered their resignations and withdrawn their support to the ruling coalition.

This “has resulted in the government led by Sri H.D. Kumaraswamy to be a minority government”, the petition added.

According to the petitioners, the chief minister made a mention on the floor of the House on July 12 that in view of certain political situations, he would seek a vote of confidence. The House was to take up the motion of vote of confidence of July 18 but till Monday afternoon, it had not been done.

“It is submitted that the trust vote is not being conducted despite the government being in a minority. It is submitted that a minority government, which does not have the confidence of the majority, is being allowed to continue in office.

“…under Article 164 of the Constitution of India, the Hon’ble chief minister must command the majority of the Legislative Assembly,” the MLAs said.

It was alleged that taking advantage of this logjam, the government was taking several executive decisions like transferring police and IAS officers.

“It has been reliably learnt that in a desperate attempt to avoid the trust vote, the chief minister of the Karnataka may also rake up an emergent situation and use medical emergencies, including hospitalisation, to avoid the trust vote,” the petitioners said.

The petitioners recalled that the Supreme Court had last year directed the erstwhile B.S. Yeddyurappa government to face a trust vote forthwith despite the governor granting him 15 days to prove his majority.