The Supreme Court has ordered status quo on the resignations by rebel Congress MLAs and the disqualification proceedings against them till it decides on larger Constitutional issues.
'Having regard to the issues we are of the view that matter needs to be considered,' the Supreme Court said. The apex court has set a deadline for Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar till July 16 to decide on the resignations of the MLAs. He is not to make a decision till Tuesday on the resignations until the court decides on the larger Constitutional issues in a lengthy hearing.
The hearing in the Supreme Court in the plea by Karnataka rebel MLAs against the Assembly Speaker Kumar resumed on Friday.
Mukul Rohatgi, who is the ten rebel MLAs' counsel, told the top court that the Speaker has not yet accepted their resignations. He also submitted to the Supreme Court that the Speaker is answerable to this court, except under certain circumstances. 'He may not respond under certain sections and provisions, he is an entitled exemption,' Rohatgi said to the court. He told the court that the Speaker failed to take a decision despite a Supreme Court order adding that Kumar was deliberately delaying on the decision. He said that the Speaker's objective is to keep the resignations pending and disqualify them so resignation becomes infructous. 'If he can't decide on resignations, then it is a brazen case of contempt,' Rohatgi said. The rebel MLAs later also urged the Supreme Court to issue a contempt notice against the Speaker.
Congress spokersperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi who is representing the Speaker said that the MLAs' intent in giving resignation is to avoid disqualification owing to which the Kumar has to study if the resignations are genuine or not. 'Their intent in giving resignation is to avoid disqualification,' Singhvi said. 'By way of 1974 Amendment, it has been made clear that resignations cannot be merely accepted and inquiry has to be conducted to ascertain if resignations are genuine,' Singhvi submitted to the court.
Dr Rajeev Dhavan, who is arguing for Karnataka CM, sided with the Speaker and objected to the submissions of the rebel MLAs that the Speaker has acted in a mala-fide manner.'
Rohatgi also said that the Speaker is challenging the Supreme Court order to take more time to decide on the resignations of rebel MLAs. The top court then asked the Speaker if he is challenging the Supreme Court's power. 'Is it your submission that Supreme Court cannot exercise its jurisdiction,' CJI Gogoi asked Singhvi. Singhvi replied saying 'No,' adding that the Speaker first has to decide on the disqualification proceedings. 'Is it your case that you are Constitutionally bound to decide on disqualification before resignations,' CJI Gogoi asked Singhvi. "I am extremely grateful, yes", Singhvi said.