BENGALURU: 14 rebel Karnataka Congress-JD(S) MLAs on Thursday moved the Supreme Court challenging Karnataka Speaker's decision to disqualify them for the remaining term of the present legislative assembly.
It may be recalled that Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar had on Sunday disqualified 14 rebel MLAs - 11 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) - under the anti-defection law till the end of the current term of the House in 2023.
The Speaker made the announcement at a hurriedly called press conference on Sunday, three days after he had disqualified three other rebel MLAs. His decision reduced the strength of the house to 207 from 225 (224 elected members and one nominated member).
Kumar, who had faced criticism for disqualifying three rebel MLAs from contesting elections till the expiry of the present assembly's term in 2023, said that he applied the same conditions to the 14 MLAs.
The Speaker said that he was disqualifying them in response to petitions filed by Congress and JD(S) legislator party leaders about their MLAs violating the whip.
“This cannot be a drama, manipulation or deciding out of pressure. I have used my judicial conscience,” the Speaker said. When asked about the duration, which the rebel MLAs were planning to challenge in court, he said it was up to the court to decide.
Congress and JD(S) leaders hailed the Speaker’s action as a “historic decision upholding democratic values.”
However, reacting to the Speaker's decision, rebel JD(S) MLA H Vishwanath, who was one among those disqualified by the Karnataka Speaker on Sunday, said the decision was "against the law" and he and other aggrieved legislators would approach the Supreme Court for redressal soon.
Ahead of that, Kumar had disqualified three Congress rebel MLAs on Thursday.
"The disqualification is against the law...just under a whip served on them, you cannot force the legislators to come to the House," Vishwanath said.
"The Speaker has disqualified 20 members of the legislature on the grounds that they have not attended the House...so against this decision pronounced by the Speaker, we are approaching the Supreme Court very soon," the MLA said from an undisclosed location.
Another rebel MLA Pratap Gouda Patil released a video message and also confirmed that the MLAs would challenge the Speaker's decision.
Patil said, "My friends in my Maski constituency, the Speaker has disqualified me. Seeing this, you all might have panicked. There is no need to panic. We will challenge this in Supreme Court. I believe that the SC will give an order as soon as possible on the matter. So through this video, I request you all not to panic."
The 14 rebel legislators were disqualified by the Speaker a day ahead of Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa seeking the trust vote in the state assembly to prove his majority.