SC refuses to stay disqualification of Karnataka independents

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 21:26

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused
to stay the disqualification of five independent Karnataka
legislators for allegedly violating the anti-defection law or
permit them to vote during the March 4 Rajya Sabha election
in the state.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph,
however, issued notices to the Speaker and the chief whip of
the state`s ruling BJP party on the plea by the five MLAs
challenging a Karnataka High Court ruling which had upheld the
Speaker`s action.

Though at one stage, the apex court was inclined to allow
the MLAs to exercise their franchise for the Rajya Sabha
elections in which yesteryear actress Hema Malini is a
candidate, it later turned down their plea in this regard

Gulihatti D Shekar, Venkataramanappa, PM Narendraswamy,
D Sudhakar and Shivaraj Thangadagi -- all elected as
independents -- were disqualified by the Speaker on October
10, 2010, before the BS Yeddyurappa government took a vote
of confidence on the floor of the Assembly which it won by
voice-vote amid pandemonium.

"Stay can`t be granted. Was there a stay in the High
Court?" the apex court bench said when senior counsel KK
Venugopal, appearing for the MLAs, during the mentioning time
sought a stay of the high court judgement.

The counsel submitted no prejudice would be caused if the
disqualified MLAs were allowed to vote pending adjudication of
their special leave petition in the apex court. Until then,
their votes can be kept in a sealed cover, he said.

When the bench mulled "that can be done", former
Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, on behalf of the Speaker,
opposed any such relief on the ground that it would set a
wrong precedent.

He said the disqualified MLAs cannot be allowed to vote
as it would amount to setting aside the high court order.

"Look at the flip side. Supposing if they succeed, then?
What is the problem if they are allowed to vote and the votes
kept in a sealed cover? Their votes would not be taken into
consideration," the bench said.

Sorabjee pointed out that the high court judgement was
passed on Feburary 14 and the MLAs took nearly a month to
approach the court at a time when elections are to be held for
the Rajya Sabha seat.

"We are not suspending the judgement. It`s just a
procedure to safeguard the interest of the petitioners," the
bench said, to which the former Attorney General said it would
render the composition of the Rajya Sabha in a limbo leading
to an uncertainity.


First Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 21:26

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