Karnataka crisis reaches Supreme Court, after Congress, Kumaraswamy moves top court
Karnataka Assembly Floor Test: While Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and legislators slugged it out in the assembly during the debate on the trust motion, two cases were filed in the Supreme Court – one by the Congress and second by the chief minister.Updated: Jul 19, 2019 18:13 IST
The Karnataka political drama playing out in the assembly on Friday had a sideshow running in Supreme Court too. While Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and legislators slugged it out in the assembly during the debate on the trust motion, two cases were filed in the Supreme Court – one by the Congress and second by the chief minister.
The day’s recap first: The assembly missed the 1.30 pm deadline set on Thursday by Governor Vajubhai Vala as the chants of ‘Governor, go back’ rent the air.” This was followed by Vala sending a report to the Centre on the happenings in the assembly. He followed it up by setting a new deadline – end of the day – and Kumaraswamy urged the Speaker to protect him from the letter (he called it the ‘love letter’).
While all this was happening in Bengaluru, Karnataka Congress moved the first application in the Supreme Court contending that its July 17 order on the resignation of 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs was coming in the way of the party issuing whip to its legislators on the ongoing trust vote.
The application filed by Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao sought clarification on the order which said the 15 rebel MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the ongoing Assembly proceedings, saying that the direction compromises with the party’s right to issue whip.
It said the apex court order “whittles down” the power of a political party to issue whip to its MLAs as it has a constitutional right to do so and the court can’t restrict that.
The plea further stated that the order was passed without involving the Congress legislature party, which presently has 79 MLAs in the Karnataka Assembly.
On July 17, the apex court had said that 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka “ought not” to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the state Assembly and an option should be given to them as to whether they wanted to take part or stay out of it.
Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, moved the second application, making a similar point saying: “a political party has a constitutional right to issue a whip to its legislators. The exercise of this right is not circumscribed by any condition… or orders even prior to the issuance of the whip.”
The CM’s application further pleads that the Governor cannot set deadlines for the trust vote to be concluded when the confidence motion has already been initiated. “The debates on the motion are currently ongoing ... The Hon’ble Speaker has also opined that the Division will take place only at the end of the debate. In these circumstances the Hon’ble Governor cannot dictate to the House the manner in which the debate of the confidence motion has to be taken up.”
The present crisis was triggered by 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JD(S) — quitting since July 7, pushing the coalition government to the brink of collapse. The rebels – one of whom returned to Bengaluru- are since holed up in a Mumbai hotel and completely incommunicado. Ruling coalition’s attempts to reach out to them have failed and multiple cases are before the Supreme Court in the matter.
(With agency inputs)