SC reserves verdict on Karnataka MLAs’ petition


It is an open secret that they resigned to bring down the Cong.-JD(S) government, Kapil Sibal tells court

Noting that genuineness and motive are linked by an umbilical cord, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for the Congress, said it is an open secret that the dissident MLAs offered their resignation en masse to bring down the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government in Karnataka.

The arguments in the court came on Friday, the last day of hearing before a Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana. The Bench reserved the case for judgment.

Mr. Sibal said the petitions, filed by the disqualified MLAs, raised several questions of law impacting the polity of the country and should be referred to a Constitution Bench.

“We are in politics. It is not an era of secrecy. In politics, we know who is going where and what is happening,” he said.

He alleged that the resignation move by the disqualified MLAs was to bring down the government.

Mr. Sibal said the Speaker was entitled to an inquiry into the resignations submitted by the MLAs by going into the subsequent and preceding events. “There is an umbilical cord between genuineness and motive. He may get information prior and subsequent to the conduct of the MLAs,” he said.

“Genuine resignation means he does not want to be member of the House, and not that he wants to resign to become a Minister. The Speaker has to look into the circumstances and there is no bar on resigning and getting elected. It depends upon the nature, motive and materials before the Speaker. Acceptance of resignation has to be issue-based,” senior counsel argued.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Thursday suggested that the Speaker take a fresh call in the case of 15 dissident Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) MLAs disqualified under the anti-defection law.

‘Legislators’ right’

Mr. Mehta is appearing for the Speaker’s office. The court is hearing the MLAs’ petitions against their ouster by former Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar. Mr. Ramesh Kumar was replaced by V.H. Kageri, when the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government fell and the BJP came to power. Mr. Mehta said the case should go back to the Speaker’s table rather than the Supreme Court decide on it. He said legislators had the right to resign.

Mr. Mehta argued that it was “not defection if you give up membership of a political party for reasons of conscience, then you resign and go back to face the public mandate. This is recognition of the MLAs’ right to resign”.

The Solicitor General submitted that for an MLA, his constituency was sovereign. A party whip could not stop him from doing good for his electorate. In such cases, the legislator might opt to resign rather than continue his participation in an ineffectual government.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for the JD(S) leader, said defection was the biggest evil in politics. He said it reduced politics to a “trade”.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:22:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sc-reserves-verdict-on-karnataka-mlas-petition/article29803155.ece

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