'Karnataka Speaker must accept our resignations': Rebel MLAs tell Supreme Court

Source: PTI | Published on 16th July 2019, 12:25 PM | State News |

NEW DELHI: Ten rebel MLAs of the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition Tuesday said in the Supreme Court that their resignations "have to be accepted" as there is no other way to deal with the present political crisis and contended that the Speaker has to see only if the resignation is voluntary or not.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is first dealing with the case of 10 lawmakers who approached the court first.

Starting the argument, Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi representing 10 MLAs told the apex court that there were instances wherein Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar accepted resignation first and then considered disqualification and cited the case of Umesh Jadhav.

"I am only submitting accept my resignation and then decide on disqualification but speaker by this way is infringing upon my right," the lawyer said.

On CJIs query on what ground disqualification process was initiated against the MLAs, Rohtagi said, "because they were not acting like displined soldiers of the party and were not attending party meetings."

"If I (MLA)  resign, I can join another party and become a minister tomorrow but if disqualified, I have to wait for by-election," the lawyer added.

When CJI asked Rohtagi as to how the Assembly Speaker decides on resignation or disqualification petition, the senior advocate cited Article 190 by which if the MLA submits his resignation to the Speaker at his own wish, the speaker cannot force him against his wish.

"We can't say how the Speaker should decide resignation or that disqualification of MLAs. We can't fetter him. The question is whether the Speaker has any obligation to decide resignation before the disqualification, " CJI Gogoi told Rohatgi.

Rohtagi replied to the apex bench by saying that there could be a million reasons to resign but it was the Speaker's thinking that resignation was meant to favour other party.

"The fallacy of their argument is that it is based on my motive to resign which is completely irrelevant," he said.

"Speaker says the reason for resignation is to avoid disqualification but that doesn't mean that he can keep it pending," he added further.

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 moved the apex court alleging that the Speaker was not accepting their resignations.

They 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.

Disqualification proceeding is mini-trial under the Constitution's 10th Schedule, Rohatgi said, adding that resignation is different and its acceptance is based on single criterion -- it is voluntary or not.

There is nothing to show the rebel MLAs conspired with BJP, the senior advocate said.

The apex court, which was dealing with the plea of 10 rebel MLAs on July 12, will now be hearing five more lawmakers who have sought identical relief that Karnataka Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar accepts their resignations as well.

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 Monday seeking an impleadment as parties to the pending plea on which it was ordered that the speaker would not take any decision till Tuesday on the resignations and disqualifications.

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.

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