A full bench of the Karnataka High Court will commence hearing tomorrow on a batch of petitions filed by five independent MLAs challenging their disqualification from the State assembly under the anti-defection law.
Chief Justice J S Khehar constituted the three-judge bench, comprising Justices Mohan Shantanagouder, S Abdul Nazeer and A S Bopanna on October 30 to hear petitions of independents who withdrew their support to the BJP government.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N Kumar gave a split verdict on disqualification of 11 rebel BJP MLAs on October 18 and ruled that another division bench would hear the petitions filed by the five independents.
Justice N Kumar had set aside the disqualification of the 11 MLAs while Justice Khehar had upheld the Speaker’s order.
The third judge Justice V G Sabhahit, before whom the rebel MLAs disqualification case was posted, on October 29 upheld the Speaker’s order disqualifying them, giving a relief to B S Yeddyurappa government.
Justice Sabhahit, who concurred with Chief Justice J S Khehar in upholding the disqualification, in his 126-page judgement observed that the action by rebels in withdrawing support to their party government amounted to walking out of the party on the symbol on which they were elected.
The independents, on whose support BJP cobbled up a majority in the 224-member Assembly and installed its first- ever government in the South in 2008, averred in their petition that they did not violate the anti-defection law as contended by the BJP as they were elected as independents, not on the party’s symbol.
However, BJP rejected their contention and insisted these independents, inducted in the ministry had become part and parcel of the party as they had attended legislature party meetings and accepted whip in the Rajya Sabha biennial polls.
On October 27, the independents filed another petition challenging Speaker K G Bopaiah’s order disqualifying them also on the basis of complaints filed by some voters of their respective assembly constituencies.
In the wake of the disqualification of 16 MLAs - 11 from BJP and five independents - resignation by two Congress and a JDS member from their assembly membership, the effective strength of the house has come down to 205.
The ruling BJP has a strength of 106, including the Speaker. It also enjoys support the lone independent, Varthur Prakash.
The Congress has 71 and JDS 27.
The court in its October 21 ruling, while rejecting the plea by independents to allow them to vote in the second trust vote on October 22, had, however, subjected the result of motion of confidence to its final verdict on their petition.
With the Court upholding disqualification of 11 BJP MLAs, the judgement, either favouring independents or against them is unlikely to have an impact on the stability of the Yeddyurappa government.