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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Supreme Court upholds disqualification of 17 rebel Karnataka MLAs, but allows them to contest bypolls

The legislators had moved the top court against the speaker’s decision to disqualify and bar them from contesting elections under the anti-defection law till the current assembly expires in 2023.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2019 14:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The court also disapproved of the manner in which the disqualified MLAs directly approached it without first going to the high court.
The court also disapproved of the manner in which the disqualified MLAs directly approached it without first going to the high court.(Photo for representation/PTI)
         

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the disqualification of 17 rebel Karnataka MLAs but allowed them to contest the by-elections to be held on December 5.

The legislators had moved the top court against the speaker’s decision to disqualify and bar them from contesting elections under the anti-defection law till the current assembly expires in 2023.

A three-judge bench of the top court, comprising justices NV Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna and Krishna Murari heard the pleas of the Karnataka lawmakers. “We are upholding the order of the Speaker [on disqualification],” said the bench.

 Also Watch | Rebel Karnataka MLAs: Key takeaways from the Supreme Court’s order

The court said validity of resignations depends on facts/circumstances of each case and the speaker is not empowered to disqualify MLA under Schedule 10 till term end.

“Political morality not to overawe constitutional morality,” the Supreme Court said.

News agency PTI quoted the court as saying that if elected in the bypolls, the disqualified MLAs can become ministers or hold public office. The court said its verdict is based on facts and circumstances of case and does not interfere in Speaker’s power to disqualify members, PTI added.

The court also disapproved of the manner in which the disqualified MLAs directly approached it without first going to the high court.

The Congress and Janata Dal Secular lawmakers had resigned their seats in July before shifting to resorts and hotels in Mumbai. The Congress and JD(S) had alleged that they were sequestered, allegedly by BJP leaders, to prevent them from changing their mind.

Their resignations reduced the then JD(S)-Congress government to minority. KR Ramesh, who was the speaker before the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government lost its majority, however, ruled that they had violated the anti-defection law and disqualified them till the end of the term.

The verdict can be seen as an advantage for Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa who will be able to induct the rebel MLAs in his cabinet if they win the bypolls.

The BJP has the support of 106 MLAs in the 224-member Karnataka assembly. The opposition JDS-Congress has 101 MLAs in its fold.