New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday allowed 10 rebel MLAs of the Congress-JD(S) coalition in Karnataka to meet the assembly Speaker at 6 pm to convey to him their decision to resign.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the Karnataka Assembly Speaker to decide on the resignation of the MLAs during the course of the day.
The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said the decision taken by the Speaker has to be intimated on Friday when the court takes up the matter again.
The apex court also directed the Karnataka DGP to provide protection to the 10 MLAs from Bengaluru airport to the assembly after their arrival from Mumbai.
At the outset, the apex court made it clear that it was passing orders on the 10 MLAs who were before it and not the others.
The 10 rebel MLAs had moved apex court alleging that the Karnataka Assembly Speaker was not accepting their resignations.
The MLAs who have filed the petition are Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, A H Vishwanath and Narayana Gowda.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the MLAs, submitted that there is a startling state of affairs in the Karnataka Assembly where 15 MLAs want to resign but the Speaker is not accepting their resignations.
He submitted that on July 6, when some rebel MLAs went to submit their resignations, the Speaker left his office through the back door.
Rohatgi also said one of the rebel MLAs was manhandled when he tried to reach the Speaker's office on Wednesday.
He said the Karnataka Assembly will meet on July 12, but before that the ruling coalition has moved a disqualification application against the rebel MLAs.
"Instead of ordering for the floor test, attempt is made to disqualify the rebel MLAs. We want to resign and go to the public and seek re-election," Rohatgi submitted on behalf of his clients.
When the senior advocate said 15 MLAs have already tendered their resignation, the bench said "we will take note of only ten MLAs who are before us".
As Rohatgi narrated the sequence of events from July 1, the bench orally observed "nothing surprises us".
The senior advocate also reminded the bench about a May 2018 hearing when the issue of government formation in Karnataka after the state assembly elections had reached the apex court.
He said like last year, the court can direct the Speaker to conduct the floor test.
Rohatgi said there is total ruckus in both Bengaluru and Mumbai, where the rebel MLAs are staying.
He submitted that in view of such incidents, there was a need for police protection for the rebel MLAs for their transit from Mumbai to Bengaluru.