Speaker should 'decide now' on resignations, Karnataka MLAs tell Supreme Court
Ten rebel MLAs of Karnataka's ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition on Tuesday said in the Supreme Court that rules mandate the Speaker to 'decide now' on resignation and contended that by not accepting it he has attempted to coerce them to vote for the government during the trust vote.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, if there was any constitutional obligation on the Speaker to decide disqualification which was initiated after the resignation.
Rohatgi responded that the rules say to 'decide now' on resignation. 'How can the Speaker keep it pending?' he asked.
The disqualification proceeding is a mini-trial under the Constitution's 10th Schedule, Rohatgi said, adding that a resignation is different and its acceptance is based on single criterion -- is it voluntary or not.
There is nothing to show the rebel MLAs conspired with the BJP, the senior advocate said.
The disqualification proceeding was nothing but to scuttle resignation of the MLAs, he said.
He also told the court that the disqualification proceedings were initiated for not being a disciplined soldier of the party and for not attending meetings outside the House.
The bench further asked if all the disqualification pleas are on same grounds, to which Rohatgi replied 'more or less same'.
He also told the court that the Speaker has to only see if the resignations were voluntary or not. 'The resignation has to be accepted, there is no other way to deal with it,' Rohatgi told the court. 'It is my fundamental right to do whatever I want to do and cannot be bound due to non-acceptance of resignation by the Speaker,' Rohatgi said. There is a vote of confidence in the Assembly and the rebel MLAs may be forced to follow the whip despite resigning, he added.
Rohatgi told the court that the 10 MLAs resigned on July 6 and disqualification proceedings against two lawmakers were pending.
'When was the disqualification proceedings filed against rest eight MLAs,' the top court asked, to which Rohatgi responded that disqualification proceedings started against them on July 10.
The 10 rebel MLAs who moved the apex court alleging that the Speaker was not accepting their resignations are Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B.C. Patil, S.T. Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K. Gopalaiah, A.H. Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda.
The apex court, which was dealing with the plea of 10 rebel MLAs on July 12, will now hear five more lawmakers who have sought identical relief that Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar accept their resignations.
The five MLAs -- Anand Singh, K. Sudhakar, N. Nagaraj, Munirathna and Roshan Baig -- mentioned their application before a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta on Monday.
The top court had on Friday restrained the Speaker from taking any decision till July 16 on the resignation and disqualification of the rebel MLAs.
The top court had said an incidental question that would arise in the matter is the kind and extent of the directions that should be issued by a constitutional court to another constitutional functionary, which in the present case happens to be the Speaker of the Assembly.