The final hearing on petitions filed by five disqualified MLAs elected as independents, challenging the Speaker’s order, was adjourned till January 27 by the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday.
P.M. Narendraswamy, Gulihatti D. Shekhar, D. Sudhakar, Shivaraj S. Thangadagi and Venkataramanappa were disqualified by Speaker K.G. Bopaiah on October 10, a day before the vote of confidence was taken by the B.S. Yeddyurappa government which he won.
Days earlier, the five, along with 11 BJP rebel MLAs, had withdrawn support to the Chief Minister by submitting a letter to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj.
The Speaker had passed the composite order on separate writ petitions filed by BJP MLAs C.T. Ravi and D.N. Jeevaraj, who is also the Chief Whip of the BJP legislature party, and one voter each from five Assembly constituencies represented by these five MLAs elected as independents, seeking their disqualification.
Continuing his arguments before the bench, comprising Justice Mohan Shantanagoudar, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice A.S. Bopanna, counsel for Ravi and Jeevaraj, Satya Pal Jain submitted that the fact that the five had joined the BJP government meant that they have joined the party.
“It’s not a coalition government. It’s the BJP government”, Mr. Jain contended. These disqualified MLAs had been attending BJP legislature party meetings and they had lost their “independent character”, he argued.
Mr. Jain submitted that the five disqualified MLAs went to meet the Governor to submit withdrawal letter along with 11 BJP rebels, their “pleadings” were the same, and their reply to the Speaker’s show-cause notice was “almost identical”.
“They (the five disqualified MLAs) were part and parcel of the BJP”, he said.
Pointing to these MLAs’ letter withdrawing support to Mr. Yeddyurappa in which they have said they are doing so in the interests of the BJP, among other reasons, Mr. Jain observed that only BJP members are “interested” in the party interests and not others.
He also argued that the Speaker’s order cannot be subjected to judicial review, and also that there is no bar on voters from filing petitions before the Speaker.
Counsel for the five disqualified MLAs had earlier argued that they had never joined the BJP as they prayed for setting aside the Speaker’s disqualification order.
Mr. Jain’s arguments remained inconclusive, and the matter was adjourned for further hearing to January 27.