SC records Karnataka Speaker’s submission that trust vote likely today

Everyone wishing to speak on the confidence motion should be given a chance: Advocate Singhvi, representing the Speaker

July 23, 2019 01:56 pm | Updated 01:58 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

NEW DELHI, 09/04/2013: Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on April 10,  2013. 
Photo: S. Subramanium

NEW DELHI, 09/04/2013: Supreme Court of India in New Delhi on April 10, 2013. Photo: S. Subramanium

The Supreme Court on Tuesday recorded the Karnataka Assembly Speaker’s “optimism” to hold the trust vote during the course of the day.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar, told a Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the Karnataka Assembly was a House of more than 100 people and everyone wishing to speak on the confidence motion should be given a chance.

“A House of over 100 people is not as easy to control as, if I may say, it is to control a court,” Mr. Singhvi addressed the court.

“We are not asking you when the government will fall. We are only asking when you will conduct the trust vote,” Chief Justice Gogoi told Mr. Singhvi.

“There may be some 15 more speakers left in the House... May be they are all filibustering... It may finish today or tomorrow,” Mr. Singhvi submitted.

The Bench later adjourned the hearing for July 24, recording the Speaker’s submission that the trust vote may be conducted in the course of the day.

But Mr. Singhvi, after the order was dictated, indicated that he was just being “optimistic” that the trust vote may be held today or tomorrow.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for the rebel MLAs and two independent legislators, submitted that the Speaker twice put off the conduct of the trust vote on Monday. It had become a daily feature and democracy should not be put on hold with a minority government continuing to be in power. He blamed the Speaker for not putting his foot down and conducting the trust vote.

“Last year, they created a brouhaha and held a midnight hearing in the Supreme Court for an immediate floor test... I was woken up in the middle of the night. Now, they are playing ducks and drakes here,” Mr. Rohatgi thundered.

The court was hearing a plea by two independent Karnataka MLAs, R. Shankar and H. Nagesh, represented by advocate Diksha Rai, that the “minority” Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government led by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy was taking frenzied executive decisions such as transferring police officers, IAS officers and other key officials.

The legislators referred to how Governor Vajubhai Vala raised concerns in his letters to the House about horse-trading orchestrated by the ruling coalition.

The independent legislators said “about 16 MLAs” of the ruling coalition had tendered their resignation.

“Democratic principles dictate that the government has to command the majority of the Legislative Assembly. The same is part of the basic structure of the Constitution, which is being violated with impunity... Government led by Sri H. D. Kumaraswamy is a minority government,” the two MLAs said.

They alleged that the “trust vote is not being conducted despite the government being in a minority.”

Speaking for the Governor, the two MLAs said the Governor sent his communication to the House on realising that the “minority government” planned to continue the vote of confidence motion “indefinitely.”

The Governor’s communications were “in order to uphold the highest democratic traditions and parliamentary practices,” the application said.

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