Rebel Karnataka Congress, JD(S) MLAs accuse govt of scams, maladministration

In Supreme Court, 10 dissent MLAs blame Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar of delaying acceptance of their resignation in a bid to prolong life of ruling dispensation.

The battle for power in Karnataka reached the Supreme Court on Wednesday when 10 Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs jointly accused the H.D. Kumaraswamy-led coalition government of scams and maladministration, while blaming Legislative Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar of delaying the acceptance of their resignations in a bid to prolong the life of the ruling dispensation.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is scheduled to hear the petition of the MLAs on Thursday.

The MLAs said they were fed up with the maladministration and inner contradictions within the Congress-JD(S) coalition. Their decision to resign was in consultation with their conscience. The Speaker’s ploy to retard their resignation process was anti-democratic and a violation of the basic structure of the Constitution.

The petition was mentioned for urgent listing by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and advocates Subhranshu Padhi and Devanshi Singh before Chief Justice Gogoi on Wednesday. Mr. Rohatgi said “time is of great essence in the case and the petition should be heard today or tomorrow”. 

The petition has been filed by Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B.C.Patil, S.T.Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K.Gopalaiah, H.D.Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda. Chief Minister Kumaraswamy, the Speaker and the Centre have been made parties along with the State of Karnataka through its Chief Secretary.

Administration in the State came to a standstill since the time Mr. Kumaraswamy took oath as Chief Minister, the petitioners said.

The government has “lost miserably before the electorate”. Chief among the various scandals that rocked it were the IMA ponzi scam, in which “thousands of people have been cheated of their hard-earned money”, and the JSW land scam, in which “land has been given at throwaway rates to industrialists,” the MLAs said.

The petition claimed that, in all, 14 MLAs of the Congress and the JD(S) have resigned. It also mentioned the resignation of MLA Anand Singh on July 1 and two other legislators – one an independent and another from the Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party – on July 8. The government was in minority in the 222-strong Assembly, the MLAs claimed.

They said they went to the Speaker with their resignation letters on July 6, but the latter, in order to avoid them, left his office in a private car and became untraceable. They had no option but to leave their resignations with the Secretary of the Legislative Assembly and later meet the Governor.

Speaker Kumar, they said, “chose not to attend” office till July 9. On Tuesday, he went public to state that the resignation of eight of the MLAs was not in the “proper format” and asked them to be present before him on July 12.

The MLAs accused the Speaker of acting in concert with the Congress. They said the Congress had filed a disqualification petition against them. The intention of the Speaker, the MLAs alleged, was to disqualify them in a pre-judged manner on July 12 when the Assembly session begins. Such a disqualification proceeding would be “completely illegal and without any cause of action in as much as they have tendered their resignation of their memberships”.

The petition said the MLAs’ resignation letters were not contrary to the provisions of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Assembly. In fact, Rule 202 said a single line informing the intent to resign was enough. Besides, Article 190 of the Constitution did not make it mandatory to stick to any prescribed format of resignation. Further, the Article did not prescribe any sort of penalty of contingency if the resignation is not as per any prescribed format, it pointed out.

“The whole idea is to disqualify the petitioners, and under the threat of disqualification, allow the minority government to function without the support of the majority in the House. The petitioners have resigned voluntarily and without any fear,” it said.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 3:30:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sc-hears-rebel-karnataka-mlas-plea/article28339741.ece

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