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Karnataka case did not deserve pre-dawn hearing: Mukul Rohatgi

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi opposed in the Supreme Court the Congress-JD(S) plea challenging Karnataka governor’s decision to invite BJP to form government.

Karnataka Elections 2018 Updated: May 17, 2018 17:07 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
PTI, New Delhi
BS Yeddyurappa,Karnataka government formation,Mukul Rohatgi
Former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi arrives at Supreme Court for the hearing of Congress and JD(S) petition challenging Karnataka governor's decision to invite the BJP to form government, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

The rush projected by Congress for an immediate hearing in the Karnataka case was in no way akin to the life and death issue witnessed in 2015 when the Supreme Court had held a historic pre-dawn hearing, hours before Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon was to be hanged, a top lawyer said.

His contention was rebutted in the top court by a lawyer representing the Congress-JD(S) combine, who said the Constitution was going to be “hanged” in the Karnataka case.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who vehemently opposed in the top court the Congress-JD(S) plea challenging Karnataka governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form government in the early hours on Thursday, said this was not a Yakub Memon hanging situation which deserved a midnight hearing.

In 2015, lawyers and human right activists, on behalf of Memon, had moved the top court late at night after it had dismissed their last-ditch effort during the day against his plea to stay his execution.

The top court had conducted an unprecedented 90-minute hearing on July 29, 2015, which had gone well past 3 AM, and rejected the appeal of the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Memon was executed by hanging at the Nagpur Central Jail at around 6:30 am on July 30, 2015, his 53rd birthday.

Rohatgi, arguing in the Karnataka case for BJP MLAs Govind M Karjol, C M Udasi and Basavaraj Bommai, said he got a call when he was asleep, after two of these MLAs saw the developments on TV and urged him to take up their matter.

“In the Yakub Memon case, I argued from 2 am to 5 am in the top court because the man was going to be hanged at 6 am.

“What is the urgency here? Is somebody going to be hanged? The question of 15 days for floor test can be decided in the next 2 or 3 days. What is the urgency,” asked Rohatgi, who as an Attorney General had argued against the staying of the hanging of Memon.

His submission was instantly rebutted by senior advocate Anoop George Chaudhary who retorted “the Constitution is going to be hanged in this case”.

Chaudhary was one of the senior advocates, appearing along with senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for the Congress-JD(S) combine.

During the hearing, Rohatgi sought instant dismissal of the petition and said it should be outrightly rejected as it was misconceived.

Stressing that no injunction can be issued in the case, he said the President and the governor are not answerable to any court and the court should not stop a constitutional functionary from discharging official duties.

“The question which this court has to decide is whether there can be injunction against the order passed by the Governor and the President.

“Numbers cannot be proven in the Supreme Court, not even in the Raj Bhavan (Governor’s residence). Numbers have to be proven on the floor of the House and, for that, floor test has to happen. Heavens won’t fall if 15 days time is given. It is the Governor’s discretion,” he said.

Rohatgi said the Constitution granted immunity to the President and the Governor and their actions which cannot be questioned and if Governor is injuncted from exercising his powers, no law or ordinance can be passed.

First Published: May 17, 2018 17:07 IST