‘Can’t force us to attend assembly’: Karnataka’s rebel MLAs tell Supreme Court
Karnataka’s rebel lawmakers who had petitioned the Supreme Court to get Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to quickly decide on their resignation as MLAs, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that they could not be forced to attend the assembly for the trust vote scheduled this Thursday if they do not want to go.
The Congress’ ploy, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told a bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was to issue a whip ordering them to vote in the assembly and later disqualify them if they disobey.
“The game is to issue a new whip and argue Supreme Court’s (status quo) order was limited to the previous whip... The idea is to overreach the court’s protection” said Rohatgi, who is a former attorney general, said.
Rohatgi said the fact was that Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition just didn’t have the numbers in the assembly.
“This Govt is in minority and that’s the simple maths,” he said, underlining that the Karnataka ruling coalition and Speaker Ramesh Kumar did not have any real material either but was on a fishing expedition.
Speaker Ramesh Kumar, soon after receiving the first batch of resignations from rebels from the ruling coalition, had declared that acceptance of the resignation letters would not be an automatic process. And he would need to evaluate if the resignations were voluntary.
Rohatgi, who is appearing for the rebel MLAs, alluded to this argument presented by the Speaker earlier, during court proceeding and outside.
“Is there any evidence of a gun being pointed at their temple? When the MLAs appear before the Speaker, before the media, where is the question of more inquiry? Resignation can’t be mixed with disqualification,” Rohatgi said.
Over the last few weeks, 16 lawmakers from the ruling coalition have sent across their resignations to Speaker Ramesh Kumar. Besides, the coalition has also lost support of two independent legislators who have decided to back the BJP.
The strength of the 224-member assembly would be reduced to 209 if the 16 resignations are accepted with a halfway mark of 105. The coalition’s strength would be reduced to 101 while the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) already have 105 lawmakers.