Karnataka bye-polls to be deferred until SC order on disqualification of rebel MLAs

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Karnataka bye-polls to be deferred until SC order on disqualification of rebel MLAs

The Election Commission on Thursday said that it is readt to defer the by-elections to 15 Karnataka Assembly constituencies until the Supreme Court decides on the issue of disqualification of the 17 rebel MLAs. 

The Election Commission made this submission to the Supreme Court, which was hearing the disqualification case of the 17 rebel MLAs in Karnataka. The case will be heard again on October 22.

The ECI had earlier on Monday told the three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana, that it has no objections to the disqualified MLAs contesting bye-polls slated to be held in Karnataka.

The rebels, 17 in number and part of the former JD(S)-Congress coalition, had resigned from their positions to pave way for the BJP to form a government in the state. 

The 17 rebels include Pratap Gouda Patil, BC Patil, Shivaram Hebbar, ST Someshekhar, Byrati Basavraj, Anand Singh, R Roshan Baig, Muniratna, K Sudhakar, MTB Nagaraj, Shrimant Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumatahalli and R Shankar from the Congress and JD(S) legislators AH Vishwanath, Gopalaiah and Narayana Gowda.

However, polls dates were not announced for Rajajinagar and Maski owing to other cases pertaining to poll code violations.

These rebels had approached the apex court to quash and set aside former Speaker Ramesh Kumar’s order dated July 28, 2019, which had rejected the resignations of the rebels and had disqualified them. The disqualification order stated that the 17 MLAs cannot contest elections until the term of the Assembly is over. This means that the 17 rebels would have to wait for the upcoming Assembly polls in 2023.

If their disqualification is not set aside by the Supreme Court, then their prospects of getting inducted into Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa’s cabinet could be affected. 

However, on Wednesday as argued by the rebels, the current Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly has told the Supreme Court that his predecessor Ramesh Kumar erred in disqualifying 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs after their resignations.

The former Speaker, represented by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, had argued that the power of Speakers be decided by a Constitution Bench of the apex court, stating it’s an autonomous office.

The Congress in Karnataka has welcomed the Election Commission's statement.