Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy has reportedly asked for moving a confidence motion as the monsoon session of legislative assembly began today (Friday, July 12) amid the political turmoil which has seen resignations by16 MLAs of the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition which, if accepted, reduce the state government to a minority.
Two independent MLAs have also withdrawn support to the 13-month-old coalition government, media reports said.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court while hearing the bunch of pleas moved by rebel MLAs directed the Speaker to not decide on the resignation or disqualification of legislators till Tuesday, July 16, when the apex court will hear the matter again.
The resignation or disqualification proceedings of the MLAs will remain in limbo till then.
On Thursday, Karnataka assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had moved the apex Court against its order asking him to take a decision on the resignation of ten rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs during the course of the day.The apex court had asked the Speaker to decide “forthwith” about the resignations of ten rebel MLAs, allowing them to meet him at 6 pm. To which the Speaker responded by ruling out any immediate decision on the resignation of rebel MLAs, saying he cannot be expected to work at “lightning speed”.
Hearing the matter today, a bench comprising of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta, Aniruddha Bose said: “No decision to be made neither on resignation nor on disqualification.”
During the hearing, the counsel for the rebel MLAs, Mukul Rohatgistarted the arguments and said that the MLAs flew from Bombay to Karnataka to tender the resignation but the Speaker said “why did they go to the Court. I was here why did they not come to me”,
The Speaker has 10 resignation letters and it will take 10 seconds to read each letter but he wants time to read the letter, said Rohatgi.
“From July 1, these people are representing their resignations but the Speaker has not decided anything. The idea is to keep the resignation pending so that when they vote against the party they are liable for disqualification,” added Rohatgi and sought contempt notice against the Speaker.
Congress leader and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi countered the argument, saying that these MLAs’ intention in giving resignation is something different, and it is to avoid disqualification. He also said that the Speaker was not served the copy of the petition.
Singhvi said: “There are certain requirements for resignation procedure. Why should a person who is resigning anyway be scared of disqualification? It is to evade the Constitutional content.”
CJI interjected Singhvi and said: “Because they will no longer remain ministers.”
Singhvi replied: “The Speaker has no intention of questioning the authority of the court but the opposite party is only lampooning and making fun of everything.”
Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan appearing for Chief Minsiter of Karnataka HD Kumaraswamy said: “There is not a word in this application that talks about violation of the Constitution. The Speaker has acted in a mala fide manner says the petition however would the court not hear the Speaker on this point?”
“The Chief Minister has been accused of acting mala fide and in a concerted manner. According to my learned friend there is something wrong in the Speaker saying that he wants to read the letters and seeks time. Is the Speaker not entitled to seek time for the protection of the tenth schedule,” said Dhavan and handed over the written explanation given by the Speaker to the Court.
Dhavan further argued: “The Speaker says that he will decide the resignation at the earliest. I have not known any case where a petition has been entertained under Article 32 except one Haryana Legislative Assembly case where 4 months time had been given. The court accept with full humility that the Speaker will decide the resignation at the earliest.”
The bench concluded: “Apart from questions of maintainability in the writ petition, questions of substantial importance has also been raised. Status quo of the present 10 petitioners to be maintained. No decision to be made neither on resignation nor on disqualification. Matter to be considered in the next hearing,” and listed the matter for next hearing to July 16.
Back in Bengaluru, Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy today Friday sought time from the Speaker of the state assembly to seek a vote of confidence in his government.
Kumaraswamy made the request in the course of condolence messages at the opening of the state assembly session.
Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said a slot would be allotted whenever the Karnataka Chief Minister opted for it. “The chief minister has spoken his mind that he would not cling to power amid the confusion. He said he will seek the trust of the House,” the Speaker told reporters. “Whenever he tells me that he wants to move the trust motion, the very next day I will put it in the business of the day,” he added.
The numbers of the coalition will fall to 101 in the event of acceptance of the resignations of 16 MLAs by the Speaker. The BJP has 105 MLAs and the support of two Independents at present.