Apex court sets aside Karnataka Speaker's decision to disqualify MLAs

J. Venkatesan  | | Updated on: Jun 10, 2011

BL14_P1_KARNA | Photo Credit: V Sreenivasa Murthy

The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Speaker, Mr K.G. Bopaiah's order disqualifying 11 BJP MLAs holding that the proceedings conducted by him on the Disqualification Application filed by the Chief Minister, Mr B.S. Yeddyurappa, did not meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play.

A Bench of Mr Justice Altamas Kabir and Mr Justice Cyriac Joseph allowed the appeals of Mr Balchandra L. Jarkiholi and 10 others against the orders of the Karnataka High Court upholding their disqualification.

The Bench also allowed appeals filed by five Independent Karnataka MLAs and set aside the Speaker's order disqualifying them in October 2010. It said that Independent MLAs joining the Council of Ministers in a coalition government, without joining the ruling party, would not sacrifice their independent identity

 The Bench said, “Extraneous considerations are writ large on the face of the order of the Speaker and the same has to be set aside. The Speaker, in our view, proceeded in the matter as if he was required to meet the deadline set by the Governor, irrespective of whether, in the process, he was ignoring the constitutional norms set out in the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution and the Disqualification Rules, 1986, and in contravention of the basic principles that go hand-in-hand with the concept of a fair hearing.”

Writing the judgment, Mr Justice Kabir said that merely because these MLAs expressed lack of confidence in Mr Yeddyurappa would not mean that the Speaker was empowered to take action against them.

The Bench said the appellants in their reply sent on October 9, 2010 to the show-cause notices issued to them, had re-emphasised their position that they not only continued to be members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, but would also support any Government formed by the BJP headed by any leader, other than Mr Yeddyurappa, as the Chief Minister of the State.

The Bench said, “There was no compulsion on the Speaker to decide the Disqualification Application filed by Mr Yeddyurappa in such a great hurry within the time specified by the Governor to the Speaker to conduct a Vote of Confidence in the Government headed by Mr Yeddyurappa.  It would appear that such a course of action was adopted by the Speaker on October 10, 2010, since the Vote of Confidence on the Floor of the House was slated for October 12, 2010.

“The element of hot haste is also evident in the action of the Speaker in this regard as well. The procedure adopted by the Speaker seems to indicate that he was trying to meet the time schedule set by the Governor for the trial of strength in the Assembly and to ensure that the Appellants and the other independent MLAs stood disqualified prior to the date on which the Floor Test was to be held.”

 The Bench said, “The Vote of Confidence took place on October 11, 2010, in which the disqualified members could not participate and, in their absence Mr.Yeddyurappa was able to prove his majority in the House. Unless it was to ensure that the Trust Vote did not go against the Chief Minister, there was no conceivable reason for the Speaker to have taken up the Disqualification Application in such a great hurry.”

Published on May 13, 2011
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