The Election Commission of India on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it would defer the upcoming by-polls to 15 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka, whose MLAs were disqualified earlier. The statement by EC's council came after a 3-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said that it would decide on the batch of petitions filed by 17 disqualified MLAs of Karnataka challenging the order of former Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar disqualifying them from the House.
After the bench, also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari, said that it would hear the matter completely and decide it, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the poll panel, said: "Then I will ask the Election Commission to defer it (by-polls for 15 Assembly seats in Karnataka) for sometime". When the bench asked Dwivedi as to whether his statement should be recorded in the order, the senior lawyer said, "We will do it". The lawyers appearing for the disqualified MLAs, Congress leader Siddaramaiah and other respondents said, they have no objection if the by-polls are deferred. Meanwhile, the top court said it would continue with the hearing in the case on October 22.
Earlier, the Election Commission, in the Supreme Court, had opposed the plea of disqualified MLAs to stay the elections till the SC verdict on their petitioning challenging former speaker’s actions. This comes two days after the notification of dates for by-elections to 15 constituencies in Karnataka was announced by EC. The petitioners asked the SC to stay the elections to their vacant former constituencies till it arrives at a verdict on former speaker, Ramesh Kumar’s ruling not just disqualifying them, but even barring them from contesting elections till the end of the term of 15th assembly session.
The halfway mark in Karnataka assembly is 112 and in a truncated assembly, BJP had won the trust vote comfortably as the magic number was 105 and BJP legislators, with the support of an independent MLA had sailed smoothly. BJP will have to win at least 8 of the 15 seats in the by-polls to retain their government in the state. The opposition parties, Congress and JDS, which had formed the previous government together have decided to fight the by-elections separately, without a pre-poll alliance with each other. With the wafer-thin majority of the current BJP government, all eyes are set on the SC's verdict and EC's decision.