Karnataka High Court says BJP MLC cannot be appointed minister
The Karnataka High Court on Monday ruled that nominated legislative council member AH Vishwanath cannot be appointed as a minister as his disqualification was still operative.
Vishwanath a former President of the state unit of Janata Dal (S), who was an MLA from Hunsur, was one of the 17 ‘rebels’ from Congress and JDS who resigned from assembly membership and helped topple the JDS-Congress coalition government last year.
The then speaker Ramesh Kumar had disqualified him as well as other legislators. However, while all the other defectors got re-elected to the assembly on BJP tickets, two of them - MTB Nagaraj and Vishwanath were defeated. Another ‘defector’ R Shankar chose not to contest the by-poll.
While Nagaraj and Shankar were elected to the legislative council, Vishwanath was nominated under the ‘litterateur’ category by the Governor to the upper house on the recommendation of the state government as he is the author of a few books.
Hearing a bunch of public interest litigation petitions, a division bench of the Karnataka high court headed by chief justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajit Shetty ruled that “The Governor will take into consideration the disqualification incurred by Vishwanath, while the disqualification ceased to be operative in case of Nagaraj and Shankar as they were elected to the legislative council, if a recommendation is made by the Chief Minister to appoint them as ministers.”
While others have been accommodated with ministerial berths, Vishwanath, Shankar, Nagaraj and Munirathna who was recently elected in the recent bypolls have been waiting to be inducted into the cabinet. Chief minister Yediyurappa in turn is waiting for the party high command’s nod before expanding his cabinet. Karnataka can have a maximum of 34 ministers including the CM and currently there are seven vacancies.
The ruling by the HC means that Vishwanath’s often repeated ambition to be ‘recognized for sacrifice made and rewarded with ministry’ may not fructify for the present. While Vishwanath was not reachable for comments, a BJP spokesperson said, “What is there for us to comment, it is a court ruling and everybody has to follow it.”