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Quoting Speaker, coalition says legislators still bound by whip

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on July 17, 2019 Published on July 17, 2019

Assembly rules say permission of Speaker required to remain absent from the House

In a last-ditch attempt to save the ruling Janata Dal Secular (JD-S)-Congress coalition in the State, the allies are planning to use the rules of Karnataka Legislative Assembly to make the rebel MLAs toe the line.

JD(S) and Congress leaders met Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar and discussed the consequences of the Supreme Court’s order. The ruling coalition has sought clarification from the Speaker on whether the members were still bound by the rules of the legislative Assembly, especially the rule that requires Speaker’s permission to remain absent from the House, and also the right of the parties to issue a whip.

“The Speaker has clarified that the members are bound to adhere to the rules of the Assembly and have to seek permission to remain absent,” Krishna Byre Gowda, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister told reporters after an hour-long discussion with the Speaker.

He said that the Speaker has left it to the parties to decide whether to move a petition under the Tenth Schedule against those violating the whip on which he would decide later. He also suggested to both the parties to consult legal experts on this issue.

“Now both the parties feel that their right to issue whip has been indirectly infringed upon in the Wednesday’s order. We have sought a similar clarification from the Governor in this regard, too.”

The JD(S)-Congress delegation was led by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and JD(S)-Congress co-ordination panel chief and CLP leader Siddaramaiah.

KPCC President Dinesh Gundu Rao said the disqualification petition with the Speaker was as per section 2-1a of the anti-defection law. “It’s not for violating the whip but for indulging in anti-party activities, for joining hands with the BJP to topple the Karnataka government and voluntarily giving up membership.”

Welcoming the court’s decision, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said it has given him the freedom to decide on the resignations of rebel MLAs, and added he would conduct himself responsibly in accordance with the principles of the Constitution. “With utmost humility, I welcome and respect the Supreme Court decision,” Kumar said

Congress flays verdict

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy declined to comment on the ongoing political crisis.

Priyank Kharge, Minister for Social Welfare tweeted: “As I perceive: the Constitution says - Resignation is not a right of an MLA. A party has power to direct its MLA to be present for voting in the House & non-compliance of this direction will lead to the member's disqualification on ground of defection.”

“Then, how can the individual, who continues to be an MLA with the resignation pending with the Speaker, claim a right to abstain or not participate from Assembly proceedings (in view of Schedule 10). “SC seems to have passed an order nullifying the effect of Clause 2(b) of Schedule 10 of Constitution allowing the MLAs to escape the consequences of defying the whip of the party.”

“I think the verdict is against the whole spirit of the anti defection laws. Don’t see 'Constitutional balance' in this judgment.”

Published on July 17, 2019
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