SC quashes disqualification of 16 Karnataka MLAs

In a major blow to the ruling BJP in Karnataka, the Supreme Court today quashed Assembly Speaker`s decision to disqualify 16 MLAs ahead of the no confidence motion last year which had ensured survival of the Yeddyurappa government.

Last Updated: May 13, 2011, 18:59 PM IST

New Delhi: In a major blow to the ruling
BJP in Karnataka, the Supreme Court today quashed Assembly
Speaker`s decision to disqualify 16 MLAs ahead of the no
confidence motion last year which had ensured survival of
the Yeddyurappa government.

A bench headed by justice Altamas Kabir while quashing
the speaker`s decision said basic constitutional values and
principles of natural justice were not observed by Speaker K G
Bopaiah in disqualifying the 11 rebel BJP and five independent
legislators.
The apex court passed the order while setting aside
the Karnataka High Court order upholding the Speaker`s
decision, aggrieved by which the disqualified legislators had
moved the apex court.

The apex court ruling came on an appeal by four of the
11 disqualified BJP MLAs in Karnataka against the high court
order upholding the Speaker`s decision.

The apex court bench had reserved its verdict on the
appeal on February 11 after hearing at length counsel for the
four MLAs - Gopala Krishana Belur, Shivanagaouda Naik, Shanker
Linge Gowda and Bellubbi, besides lawyers for Chief Minister B
S Yeddyuruppa and the Assembly Speaker.

Eleven rebel BJP MLAs and five independent ones were
disqualified by the Speaker on the eve of the voting on a
no-trust motion against Chief Minister Yeddyurappa`s
government.

The MLAs were disqualified as it was apprehended that
they would support the no-trust motion against the government
during the voting.
The 16 MLAs had withdrawn their support to the
government on October 6 last year and were suspended on
October 11.

In their appeal, the MLAs had contended that their
disqualification had raised substantial questions of
constitutional and administrative laws of public importance
having serious implications for the democratic representative
government and involving an interpretation of the provisions
of the Tenth Schedule and the rules made thereunder.

The legislators had submitted that they had made a
categorical statement in their replies to the show-cause
notice issued by the Speaker before their suspension that they
had no intention at all to leave BJP or the membership of its
legislature party and that their letter to the Governor was
aimed at "cleansing the image of the party by getting rid of
Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister."

According to the petition, democratic dissent, without
any intention of leaving the party but in the hope of saving
its image and reputation by getting rid of a "corrupt" Chief
Minister, cannot be regarded as voluntarily giving up the
party membership as such.

It was submitted that they were disqualified before the
voting actually took place in the Assembly apprehending that
they would vote against the Chief Minister on the specious
ground that they had voluntarily given up BJP membership.

The Karnataka High Court had upheld the disqualification
of 11 rebel BJP MLAs on October 29.

PTI