3 disqualified Karnataka MLAs to move Supreme Court, High Court over Speaker’s order

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BENGALURU: Karnataka’s three disqualified legislators, including two rebel Congress MLAs, would on Monday move the Supreme Court and the Karnataka High Court against the Speaker’s order, sources said on Saturday.

The disqualified legislators are Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumatahalli of the Congress and R. Shankar of the KPJP, whom the Congress claims to have merged his regional outfit with it on June 14 after he became minister again in the then JD-S-Congress coalition government.

“As petitions of Jarkiholi and Kumatahalli against Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar are in the apex court since July 10, they would file affidavits against their unilateral disqualification without serving notice or giving them an opportunity to defend themselves,” a source told IANS quoting the rebels, who are under lockdown in a Mumbai star hotel since July 6.

Shankar, who won from Ranebannur in the May 2018 assembly elections, floated the Karnataka Pragnyavanthara Janatha Paksha (KPJP) after leaving the Congress for denying him ticket to contest.

“Pledging support to the BJP in writing to Governor Vajubhai Vala on July 8 after resigning as Minister on the same day and withdrawing support to the coalition government does not amount to defection and the anti-defection law cannot be applied to disqualify him,” the source claimed.

Shankar will file his writ petition against the Speaker’s order in the Karnataka High Court on Monday.

Citing the case of 18 AIADMK legislators, who were disqualified in September 2017, but allowed by the apex court and the Election Commission to contest the by-elections in six months, the source said the Speaker has “erred” in banning the rebels from contesting any election for the rest of the Assembly’s term – till 2023.

Jarkiholi and Kumatahalli were disqualified on a complaint by Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah on February 11 for not “attending” the 10-day budget session from February 7-20 and two legislature party meetings held on January 18 and February 7, despite the party whip.

“Assembly records, however, show that Jarkiholi and Kumathalli attended the session on February 14-15 and voted on the budget proposals for fiscal 2019-20, which was a vote-on-account for four months till July 31,” the source said.

According to former Advocate-General and constitutional law expert B.V. Acharya, the Speaker’s decision to disqualify the three MLAs was wrong and misconceived, and would not pass judicial scrutiny.

“The disqualification is against the constitutional provisions and the well-accepted principles of law,” Acharya had told local news channels, adding that the reasons for disqualifying them do not come under the provisions of the anti-defection law.

However, the Speaker, announcing the disqualifications on Thursday, had said that the “resignations are neither voluntary nor genuine but given under duress or pressure”.

Disagreeing with the Speaker’s reasons, Acharya said: “The disqualifications are contrary to the Supreme Courts judgements in similar cases and amount to its contempt.”

Terming the Speaker’s decision one-sided, bad in law and arbitrary, BJP spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS on Saturday the apex court, in its interim orders on July 17, had said that the Speaker’s ruling on the resignations would have to be placed before it for scrutiny.

“As the disqualifications are not in conformity with the anti-defection law and are based on extraneous reasons, I am afraid they will not be upheld by the courts,” he added.

Source: IANS