The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday reserved the verdict on a writ petition challenging disqualification of 11 BJP MLAs and adjourned the hearing into a plea by the 5 independent legislators till October 18.
The division bench of Chief Justice KS Khehar and Justice Manjula Chellur had taken up the cases on an urgent basis, after the rebel MLAs sought quashing of Speaker KG Bopaiah's order of disqualifying them under anti-defection laws.
The 16 dissident legislators, 11 BJP and five Independents, were disqualified ahead of the trust vote on the floor of the house.
Arguments into the writ petition by the BJP legislators were over and the court has reserved its verdict. However, the court allowed the independent legislators to amend their petition after day-long hearing into the case.
PP Rao, the counsel for MLAs, had challenged the show-cause notices claiming that rebels were not given seven days to reply as per the rules of state legislative assembly.
"The speaker served the notice on the rebels October 8 and asked them to reply by 5 pm, October 10, giving only two days to reply instead of seven days in violation of the rules," he said, and contending that the disqualification was pre-emptive, he added the rebels did not violate any rule before the trust vote.
Under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, pertaining to the anti-defection law, legislators can be disqualified only if they defied the ruling party's whip and voted against it, Rao said.
Soli Sorabjee, counsel for the government, defended the govt by saying that the seven day notice was not applicable as the chief minister had announced plans to prove majority in the Assembly on October 11, a day before the governor's deadline expired. The rebels were asked to reply ahead of the trust vote.
He defended speaker's action by saying that the disqualification of the rebels, including the independents was in conformity with the Anti-Defection Act, 1985. Independent MLAs were cabinet ministers and also identified with the BJP during last 29 months.
"As per the provisions of the anti-defection law, independents identifying with the ruling party and being part of the government as minister for more than six months become liable to be disqualified as much as the ruling party's legislators," Sorabjee argued.
The disqualified BJP rebels include, Gopalakrishna Beluru, , Balachandra Jarkiholi, , Bharamgowda Kage, M.P. Renukacharya, G.N. Nanjundaswamy, M.V. Nagaraju, B.N. Sarvabhouma Shivan Gowda Nayak, Anand Asnotikar, Y Sampangi and H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda.
The five independents are P M Narendra Swamy,, Venkataramanappa, D. Sudhakar, S. Tangadagi and Goolihatti Shekar.