The Karnataka High Court on Friday ordered issue of notices to 22 MLAs and a Minister on petitions, which alleged that they had violated the mandatory procedure prescribed in the Constitution for taking oath as members of the Legislative Assembly and as Minister, respectively.
The petitioners, city-based advocate Dharmapal Y. and RTI activist Jayaprakash Hiremath, alleged that the MLAs and Minister for Information Technology S.R. Patil took the oath in a “whimsical” manner, disregarding the Constitutional mandate.
They took oath in the names of a deity, saints, parents, farmers or voters of their constituency.
The petitioners have sought a direction from the court to oust them from office and declare that these MLAs and the Minister have usurped their office, performing functions without authority in law as they have “not taken oath or affirmation as mandated by the Constitution”.
It has been pointed out that the MLAs have clearly violated Article 188 of the Constitution, which states that a person elected to the Legislative Assembly or Council, shall, before taking his seat,…make and subscribe…an “oath or affirmation according to the form set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule [of the Constitution].
Similarly, Article 164(3) of the Constitution states that before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the “oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule”.
Petitioners’ counsel A.S. Ponnanna pointed out that as the prescribed form set out in the Constitution states that they can either “swear in the name of God” or can “solemnly affirm”, the words substituted by these elected representatives resulted in “not taking oath or affirmation” of their offices, thus making them ineligible to function as MLAs and Minister.
It has been contended in the petition that such a violation attracts penalty as per Article 193 of the Constitution, which states that if a person sits or votes as a member of the Assembly or the Council before he takes oath as per Article 188, “he shall be liable, in respect of each day on which he sits or votes, to a penalty of Rs. 500 to be recovered as a debt due to the State”.
The 22 MLAs and their constituencies are: S.N. Narayanswamy (Bangarpet); S. Chikkamadu (H.D. Kote); D.N. Devaraj (Sringeri); H. Anjaneya (Holalkere); Chandrakanth Bellad (Hubli-Dharwad West); R.S. Doddamani (Shirahatti); Shashikala Jolley (Nippani); V.S. Kashappanavar (Hungund); N.H. Konaraddi (Navalgunda); Pramod Madhwaraj (Udupi); K.B. Prasanna Kumar (Shimoga); Y. Ramakka (KGF); Y.N. Rudregowda (Belur); G.T. Devegowda (Chamundeshwari); M.T.B. Nagaraj (Hoskote); M.P. Appachhuranjan (Madikeri); P.M. Narendraswamy (Malavalli); Bheema Naik (Hagaribommanahalli); Chaluvarayaswamy (Nagamangala); Vinay Kulkarni (Dharwad); Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy (Pulakeshinagar) and A.B. Ramesh Bandisiddegowda (Srirangapatna).
While Justice K.L. Manjunath ordered issue of emergent notice to the Chief Secretary and Mr. Patil in one petition, Justice A.S. Bopanna ordered issue of notices to 22 MLAs and the Speaker of the Assembly while hearing the other petition.