New Delhi: A plea by disqualified Karnataka legislators challenging the termination of their assembly membership was mentioned before a Supreme Court bench on Tuesday for an urgent hearing.
The legislators who were disqualified by then Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar under provisions of anti-defection law had approached the top court challenging the decision. A single-judge bench of Justice Arun Mishra said the plea would be examined by the Registrar.
On August 1, fifteen disqualified Congress-JD(S) MLAs had moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of Kumar's order disqualifying them for the term of the present Assembly.
The petition, filed through advocate Shubhranshu Padhi, had sought setting aside of Ramesh's July 28 order rejecting their resignations. In their petition, the disqualified MLAs termed the then Speaker's decision as "wholly illegal, arbitrary and mala fide action". They also said their resignations were "voluntary and genuine".
"The Speaker has grossly erred in holding that the resignations of the petitioners were not 'voluntary and genuine'. It is submitted under Article 190 of the Constitution read with Rule 202 of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, a member can deliver a resignation signed in his own hand and the Speaker is only to satisfy himself about genuineness and voluntariness of the resignation," the plea said.
"It is pertinent to state that the petitioners have also filed affidavits before this court in the earlier proceedings stating that they have resigned voluntarily and their resignations may be accepted. And yet the Speaker has rejected the resignations submitted by the petitioners on wholly extraneous grounds," the petitioner said.
The ousted legislators alleged that Ramesh took the decision in "undue haste". "The Speakers' insistence on them attending the proceedings before him on the date of the trust vote clearly speaks volumes of the manner in which the disqualification proceedings have been conducted against them," the petition said.
They also urged the court to call for the records of the proceedings before the then Speaker pertaining to the resignation and disqualification. Kumar had disqualified 17 rebel MLAs, days after the Congress-JD(S) government collapsed after losing the confidence motion in the Assembly.
The leaders were disqualified by the Speaker, stating that they have "incurred disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution (anti-defection law) and the disqualification would last till the end of the term of the Assembly May 23, 2023."