The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave 15 dissident MLAs of Karnataka complete freedom to opt out of the ongoing Assembly session even as it acknowledged the Speaker’s discretion to decide on their resignations as and when he considers appropriate.
The free run given by the Supreme Court to the dissident legislators means they can defy a party whip without the fear of disqualification for defection under clause 2 (b) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. Clause 2 (b) of the Tenth Schedule mandates that a legislator is liable for defection if he or she “votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by the political party to which he belongs or by any person or authority authorised by it in this behalf…”
On the other hand, the court said it should not shackle the Speaker’s authority. He should be allowed to arrive at a decision on the resignations at an “appropriate time”.
This will be the third motion on trust vote moved in the Assembly after the fractured mandate in the 2018 elections.
Here are the latest updates:
Debate on trust vote begins
Leader of opposition B.S. Yeddyurappa recalled earlier occasions of trust votes completed in one day and appealed the speaker to complete the proceedings in a day. He asked the speaker to allot time to speakers from either sides proportional to their numerical strength. Assembly speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar said Rule 164 did not apply to a situation like this and asked the house to participate in the proceedings responsibly.
“They have created a lot of doubts in the minds of the people, not just about the coalition government but about the chair of the speaker as well. They have tried to create doubts about the chair as well,” Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. “Rebel MLAs have made several allegations against the government before the Supreme Court. We cannot live with such allegations and need to clarify. Trust vote can’t be put to vote without debate.”
Rebel Congress MLAs stick to their stand
Three rebel Congress MLAs — S.T. Somashekhar, Byrathi Basavaraju and Munirathna — have released a video message this morning, reiterating their stand that they would not withdraw their resignations. The video message comes in the light of senior Congress leader Ramalinga Reddy announcing he would withdraw his resignation and support Congress triggering speculations that the three city MLAs would also follow suit. The three MLAs had earlier called Mr. Reddy their “leader”.
“Before resigning, we three MLAs met Ramalinga Reddy and all four of us submitted our resignation letters and agreed that we will not withdraw our resignations at any cost. But we have now seen in the media that he has taken a U turn on the day of trust vote. He has suddenly announced he will withdraw his resignation and support Congress in the trust vote. None of us are going to follow Ramalinga Reddy and we are firm in our decision on the resignation and won’t participate in the assembly session,” said S.T. Somashekhar in the video flanked by Munirathna and Byrathi Basavaraju.
BJP legislators arrive at the Vidhana Soudha. They came in about two buses directly from a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru. A smiling B S Yeddyurappa flashed the victory symbol with both his hands as he entered the Vidhana Soudha. Speaking to media persons, he said they were confident of proving their majority in the house. “We are 101% sure that the coalition will suffer a setback. They are less than 100 while we are 105,” he said.
Ramalinga Reddy, a former Minister and seven-time MLA, who also submitted his resignation, seems to be tilting towards the coalition and has maintained that he is with the Congress. With his inclusion, the coalition will still have just 101 votes, including the Speaker’s. The vote of N. Mahesh, BSP MLA, who had a pre-poll alliance with the JD(S), is uncertain.
(With inputs from our Karnataka Bureau)
Karnataka trust vote live | Three rebel Congress MLAs not to withdraw resignations – The Hindu