Rebel MLAs move court against Speaker for delay in accepting resignation
Time is fast running out for the HD Kumaraswamy Government in Karnataka with more MLAs jumping off the sinking ship on Wednesday and the Mumbai Police not allowing Congress main troubleshooter DK Shivakumar to even meet the rebel MLAs in their luxury hotel.
The rebel camp, backed allegedly by the BJP, approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday and moved a petition signed by 10 Congress and JD(S) MLAs accusing the Karnataka Assembly Speaker of deliberately not accepting their resignations.
A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose would decide on Thursday whether their plea seeking direction for the Speaker to accept the resignation of these MLAs could be listed for urgent hearing.
Dashing the faintest hope beleaguered Chief Minister Kumaraswamy might have harboured for survival, Housing Minister MTB Nagaraj and K Sudhakar, both from the Congress, tendered their resignation to Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar.
With the two latest resignations, 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and 3 from the JD(S) — have quit while two Independent MLAs — H Nagesh and R Shanker — have already withdrawn support. The coalition’s strength is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1), besides the Speaker.
With the support of the two Independents, who quit the Government on Monday, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the halfway mark is 113. If the resignation of the 16 MLAs is accepted, the coalition tally will come down to 100.
After tendering his resignation, Nagaraj told reporters, “I don’t want any ministerial position or anything. I am fed up with politics.”
Nagaraj and Sudhakar, who is State Pollution Control Board Chairman, came to the Speaker’s office about 4 pm and handed over resignations in their official letterhead to him.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, said these lawmakers have already resigned from their membership of the Assembly and wanted to contest fresh elections.
He sought the hearing either on Wednesday or Thursday on the plea in which it has been alleged that the Speaker had acted in a partisan and malafide manner and deliberately not accepting their resignations.
In the petition, the 10 rebel MLAs alleged that the Speaker was protecting the Government which is in minority now. The MLAs further sought a direction that the Speaker be restrained from proceeding with the application for their disqualification.
“Acting in a concerted manner, the Congress has filed a petition before the Speaker seeking disqualification of the MLAs who have resigned. Needless to state, the disqualification proceedings are completely illegal and without any cause of action,” they said.
In the petition, the MLAs stated that the Assembly Session is to begin from July 12, the same day that the MLAs have been asked to remain in person before the Speaker, which showed the “intent of the Speaker to disqualify the petitioners in a prejudged manner”.
“The whole idea is to disqualify the petitioners and under threat of disqualification allow the minority Government to function without the support of majority in the House. It is submitted that the actions of the Speaker are arbitrary and unreasonable and violative of the Constitution,” the plea said.
The MLAs further said their resignations were in consonance with the rules and the provisions of the Constitution. “The objection is clearly not warranted and appears to be an exercise to delay the proceedings, thereby giving room for the ruling dispensation to exert pressure on the MLAs who have tendered resignations,” the plea said.