There was no immediate relief in sight for the 11 BJP rebel MLAs, as the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday declined to pass an interim order permitting them to take part in the second vote of confidence scheduled in the Assembly for October 14.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice N. Kumar orally turned down a request by senior advocate P.P. Rao, who appeared for the MLAs, to allow them to vote on the motion. “We cannot grant any protection to them at this point of time,” the Chief Justice said.
“We just cannot pass orders as soon as the arguments have concluded. This issue needs thorough deliberation and discussion.”
If the interim order as prayed for was granted, he said, it would virtually amount to granting the main prayer. “We would reserve orders and then pronounce the judgment.”
Earlier, Mr. Rao said Governor H.R. Bhardwaj had asked Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyruppa to seek a fresh vote of confidence on October 14. “Therefore, permit us to vote by passing an interim order.”
Senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for the Bharatiya Janata Party, said the rebels could have approached the party had they wanted a change in leadership. Instead, they wrote to the Governor, withdrawing support to the Chief Minister and asking him to take action as per the Constitution.
In a related case, the same Bench posted to October 18 the petitions by five Independents challenging their disqualification from the Assembly. The petitioners called the Speaker's action “mala fide and perverse.”
Senior advocate K.G. Raghavan, arguing for the Independents, said they had “always remained Independent members and never joined the BJP. When they were served with notices by the Speaker following a petition against them by BJP Chief Whip G.N. Jeevaraj and party general secretary C.T. Ravi, the Independents asked the Speaker to check his records so that he could be sure that they had always remained Independents.”
The Independents had attended the meetings of the BJP legislature party only on invitation, he argued. “They were marked separately from the BJP members, and this shows they never joined the party.”
The Bench asked senior advocates Bhat and Satypal Jain, appearing for the BJP, to prove that the Independents had joined the party. “Show us one document to indicate that they are part of the BJP, and we will accept your stand.”
The Bench showed its displeasure at a drafting error in the petition filed by the Independents. At two places, the petition states that the Independents have never left the BJP for any party and are still part of it. Mr. Raghavan said it was a genuine mistake made during the drafting, offering to amend the plea.
However, Mr. Jain and Mr. Sorabjee opposed any amendment and said such an act, if allowed, would set a bad precedent.