Karnataka Speaker says it is tantamount to interference in the discharge of his functions
Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has conveyed to Speaker K.G. Bopaiah that he should maintain the original configuration of the Legislative Assembly — the prevailing strength of each party in the House — during Monday's vote of confidence.
Acting on the representations from political parties, the Governor said, “In the interest of a free and fair floor test, it is required that no attempt should be made to change the character/configuration of the House after the House has been summoned for this purpose. Any attempt to change the character/configuration of the House in the run-up to the vote of confidence motion is bound to vitiate the proceedings. Any result obtained by such vitiated proceedings will not be acceptable.”
He said, “Therefore, it is my earnest appeal to you to maintain absolute impartiality and uphold the highest traditions of Presiding Officer in conducting the free and fair floor test, without giving reason for vitiating the proceedings.” In other words, the Governor has sought to convey to the Speaker that the notice served on 13 legislators asking them to explain why action should not be initiated against them under the provisions of the anti-defection law should not be carried forward until the completion of the trust vote.
On receipt of the letter, Mr. Bopaiah hit back and told the Governor that his letter amounted to interference in the discharge of the functions of the Speaker. He, however, assured the Governor that he would maintain absolute impartiality and act in accordance with the Constitution and uphold law.
The Governor said that as held by the Supreme Court in the S.R. Bommai case, when a question arises about the Chief Minister enjoying the majority support of the House, the best way to ascertain the same is by going for a free and fair floor test. Subsequent to summoning the session of the Assembly, “I understand that proceedings have been initiated to disqualify certain members or to suspend some members. The representations given by the Opposition leader in the Assembly as well as the JD(S) Legislature Party expressing their fears that the floor test scheduled for October 11 may not be free and fair and may be vitiated by various actions have already been forwarded to you.”
Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and R.V. Deshpande, followed by JD(S) leader M.C. Nanaiah, called on the Governor to express their resentment over the Speaker serving notices on several BJP legislators. They sought the Governor's intervention since any violation of the anti-defection law can only be on two counts — if the legislator concerned voluntarily quits a political party on which ticket he was elected to the Assembly and secondly if a legislator votes against the party whip during the trust vote.
The party-wise strength in the Assembly as on October 6: BJP 116, Congress 73, JD(S) 28, Independents 6, Nominated 1 and Speaker 1 — Total 225.