SC asks Karnataka Speaker to decide on rebel MLAs today

New Delhi (IANS) The Supreme Court asked the rebel Congress MLAs of Karnataka to meet Assembly Speaker at 6 p.m. on Thursday regarding their resignations and said Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar should take the decision on the resignations on the day itself.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said the 10 MLAs, who had moved the top court against the Speaker's refusal to accept their resignations, could communicate their decision to resign if they so wished, and then the Speaker should take decision today. 

It said the court should be informed on the matter by Friday. 

The top court also ordered police protection for MLAs after they landed at the Bengaluru airport. 

The MLAs have parked themselves in Mumbai after tendering their resignations on July 6.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the MLAs, said the Speaker was not doing his duty by not accepting the resignation of the MLAs.

Instead the Speaker was deliberately dilly dallying, he alleged.

The court took a sharp jibe and said: "How Lucky." 

The court said the Speaker should grant them an audience at 6 p.m., and then the MLAs may inform the Speaker about their resignation. "Speaker to take decision forthwith or in the course of the day. The decision to be informed to the court by tomorrow," said the court.

Karnataka rebel Congress and JD(S) leaders who resigned from Assembly, move the top court on Wednesday alleging the Speaker not performing constitutional duty and deliberately delaying the acceptance of their resignations.

Rohatgi mentioned the matter before a bench headed by the Chief Justice, and sought urgent hearing on the matter. The court assured that their plea will be heard, but it could not hear the matter on the same day.

The petition filed by MLAs claim that the actions of the Speaker "are vitiated by mala fide as evident in his actions". According to the simple arithmetic, the strength of the House being 224, the government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy has lost its majority (112 seats) and after the resignation its strength has been reduced to 103 seats. 

"Notwithstanding the same and fearing that the Chief Minister may have to tender resignation for want of confidence of the House, the Speaker is acting in a partisan manner to frustrate the will of the House," the petitioners contended.

The 10 MLAs in the petition have made two specific prayers before the court -- direct the Speaker to accept the resignations tendered and restrain the Speaker from proceeding with application on disqualification of the MLAs. 

The petitioners have also requested the passing of an order which it may deem fit in connection with the facts and circumstances of the present case.

"Since the time H.D. Kumaraswamy took oath as a Chief Minister, the administration has come to a standstill and maladministration is writ large. In recent days, the government have been rocked by various scandals," said the petition.

The petitioners contended that the Chief Minister despite being reduced to minority is refusing to seek a vote of confidence. "And, as a result of the concerted acts between the Speaker and the government, a minority government, which does not enjoy the confidence of the House, continues in power illegally. 

"A purposive interpretation of article 164 r/w principles of Parliamentary Sovereignty mandate that the Chief Minister should always command the confidence of the House," said the petition.

Describing the current political situation as extraordinary, the petitioners requested "the court to invoke its extraordinary jurisdiction for upholding the democratic principles as enshrined in the Constitution". 

Attacking the "deliberate" delay caused by the Speaker, the petitioners said his actions are not in compliance with Constitutional democracy. 

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