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SC reserves verdict in K'taka MLAs disqualification case


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its judgement in the case pertaining to 17 Karnataka rebel MLAs of Congress and JDS, who had moved the court challenging their disqualification by the then Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari, after three days of continuous hearing, asked the counsels to submit documents related with the matter.

A battery of senior advocates appeared in the case. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhavan, Devadatta Kamat and K Shashi Kiran Shetty represented Congress and JDS parties.

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi, C A Sundaram, V V Giri, A K Ganguli, K V Vishwanathan appeared for the MLAs.

On Thursday, during the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing current Assembly Speaker, had submitted before the top court that the new Speaker is willing to examine the matter, whereas the rebel MLAs had contended that the previous Speaker, K R Ramesh Kumar, was not correct in not accepting their resignation, and later decided to disqualify them. This disqualification stripped the MLAs of their membership and also proved to be a hurdle in contesting elections again.

These MLAs contended that the Speaker overreached the mandate under the Constitution while taking a decision on their resignation. And then disqualified them against the law and the directions given by the top court.

On Friday, Dhavan, representing JDS, contended that the Speaker cannot take a mechanical decision on the matter, rather he was supposed to deal with it in a comprehensive manner.

Senior advocate Sibal contended the matter is technical.

"This matter involves a substantial question of law... we are in politics....and, we know who is going where and what is happening," contended Sibal insisting that the MLAs were to bring down the government. Sibal submitted that the Speaker was supposed to look if the resignations were genuine and voluntary.

The bench queried him, "You mean the MLAs can't resign and join the other party? How is it that the disqualification is extended till the term of Assembly."

To this, Sibal replied that what happened, inside the House, was a constitutional sin, and the Speaker has to act when somebody is willing to bring down the government.

The bench said, "the Speaker is constitutional authority and he is supposed to be neutral. The proceedings has to be as per the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution".

Kamath, representing Congress leaders Siddaramaiah and Dinesh Gundu Rao, contended that the Speaker has no authority to condone absence during the session of the Legislative Assembly, and it is only the political party which can make a concession.

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