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Karnataka: Supreme Court upholds disqualification of 17 ‘rebel’ MLAs, allows them to contest elections

Interestingly, the Supreme Court also observed that there is a growing trend of the Speaker acting against the Constitutional mandate, which leads to citizenry being denied stable governments. 

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court has upheld former Karnataka Speaker’s order to disqualify 17 ‘rebel’ Congress and JD(S) MLAs. However, the apex court has allowed them to contest in the upcoming Karnataka by-polls.

According to the reports, the Supreme Court has quashed the order of former Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar, who had disqualified the disqualified MLAs from contesting elections until the term of current assembly term 2023. Fourteen rebel MLAs of the Congress and three of the JDS were disqualified under the anti-defection law by the Speaker in July.

A three-judge Supreme Court Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna, and Krishna Murari delivered the judgement on Wednesday after the bench had reserved orders in the case on October 25.

“We are of the opinion that scope of duty under Article 193 has been discussed, Not making nay observation regarding the merits of disqualification. As such, there is no doubt that disqualification relates to the date when the act takes place. The speaker in the exercise of powers does not have the power to indicate the period for which a person is barred from contesting an election,” the three-judge bench of SC said in its verdict.

Read: Ex Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah threatens of ‘bloodshed’ if any attempts are made to change Constitution

“We uphold the order of speaker of disqualification. But strike out the period of disqualification,” it added.

Reportedly, the Supreme Court further added that once the Speaker is satisfied that the member has tendered resignation freely, speaker bound to accept it. Interestingly, the Supreme Court also observed that there is a growing trend of the Speaker acting against the Constitutional mandate, which leads to citizenry being denied stable governments.

Advocate Sandip Patel, representing the disqualified MLAs said that the Supreme Court has upheld the disqualification. He added that the Supreme Court, however, did not say anything on the resignation of MLAs. “Till rebel MLAs are re-elected, they can’t hold any posts in the government including ministerial berths,” added Patel.

Read: “Give me majority, I will teach Modi how to govern”: Former Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy

Seventeen disqualified Karnataka MLAs belonging to Congress and JD(S) had filed petitions after former Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had passed an order to disqualify them ahead of the trust vote in July.

The by-polls to 15 out of 17 Karnataka assembly seats, which became vacant following the disqualification of MLAs, are scheduled to be held on December 5.

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