The Supreme Court will take up on Thursday for urgent hearing a joint petition filed by 10 Karnataka rebel Congress and Janata Dal Secular MLAs seeking a directive to Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to accept their resignation letters.
They also want the Speaker to desist from pressing ahead with their disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose agreed to take up the matter for urgent hearing upon a request made by senior advocate and former attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi who complained that the Speaker was deliberately not accepting the resignations.
Although Rohatgi pleaded that the matter be taken up for hearing on Wednesday itself, the Chief Justice said it could be considered for hearing on Thursday.
The rebel legislators who filed the joint petition are Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B. C. Patil, S. T. Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K. Gopalaiah, H.D. Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda.
Besides accusing the Speaker of acting in a partisan manner at the behest of the Congress, the rebel MLAs alleged that corruption was writ large in the state where administration has come to a standstill.
“Since the time Sh. H.D. Kumaraswamy took oath as chief minister, the administration has come to a standstill and maladministration is writ large. In recent days, the government has been rocked by various scandals….”
The petition stated that “the coalition has been rocked by inner contradictions and the government has never remained stable. Consequently, in the recent Lok Sabha elections, despite the governing coalition contesting the election together on a seat-sharing formula, they lost miserably before the electorate,” the petition said.
Accusing the Speaker of acting in a partisan manner, the petitioners submitted that the Speaker chose not to attend office till July 9 when he appeared before the media and stated that the resignation of eight MLAs were not in a proper format and asked five of them to be present before him on July 12.
“Acting in a concerted manner, the Congress party has filed a petition before the Speaker seeking disqualification of the MLAs who have resigned. Needless to state, the disqualification proceedings are completely illegal and without any cause of action…,” the petition said.
According to the dissident legislators, the Assembly Session is scheduled to begin from July 12, the day the MLAs have been asked to appear before the Speaker.
“The same in itself shows the intent of the Speaker to disqualify the petitioners in a prejudged manner…. The whole Idea is to disqualify the petitioners and under threat of disqualification allow the minority government to function without the support of majority in the house.
“The Hon’ble Speaker has acted as a partisan and mala fide manner in the present case in order to protect the government in power which is in a minority,” the petitioners alleged.