The Karnataka High Court on Monday pronounced a split verdict on the disqualification of 11 rebel BJP MLAs from the state assembly. The matter will be heard by a third judge on Wednesday.
The hearing on another plea by five independent legislators against their disqualification was referred to a new bench, which will take up the case on November 2.
Chief Justice J.S. Khehar upheld Speaker K.G. Bopaiah's decision to disqualify the 11 BJP legislators but Justice N. Kumar ruled against the disqualifications, saying the legislators had not quit the party and therefore did not attract provisions of the anti-defection law.
Chief Justice Khehar said the conduct of the BJP legislators in withdrawing support from Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa's government was ground enough to suggest that they had voluntarily resigned from the party, thus inviting action under the anti-defection law.
The two judges however agreed that the Speaker's intentions were not malafide.
The judges also upheld that the principles of natural justice were followed in giving ample time to the legislators to reply to the show-cause notices issued by the Speaker.
"Justice Khehar made the observation based on a Supreme Court ruling that ‘voluntary resignation' may not require the legislator to tender his or her resignation but could be inferred on the basis of his or her conduct," Satyapal Jain, counsel for the BJP, said.
Yeddyurappa won two motions of confidence last week. Both were held in the absence of the 16 rebel MLAs.
The crisis for the BJP government started when 16 MLAs withdrew support from the government. After Governor H.R. Bhardwaj asked Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the assembly, the disqualified MLAs moved the HC against their disqualification under provisions of the anti-defection law.