Karnataka crisis: SC rejects AG's arguments, orders floor test at 4 pm on Saturday

The apex court bench, while ordering a floor test at 4 pm on Saturday, said that 'It is just a number game, one who enjoys the majority should be invited to form the Government.

Karnataka crisis: SC rejects AG's arguments, orders floor test at 4 pm on Saturday

NEW DELHI/BENGALURU: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the BS Yeddyurappa government to prove its majority on the floor of the house and directed that a floor test be held in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly at 4 pm on Saturday, May 19. 

The apex court bench, while ordering the floor test, said that 'It is just a number game, one who enjoys the majority should be invited to form the Government.

The court further said that the floor test should be held according to laid procedures and under the supervision of a Protem Speaker. The also directed the appointment of a Protem Speaker by 4 pm this evening. The top court also categorically said that there will be no secret ballot during the floor test. It is to be noted that a Protem Speaker can only vote in case of a tie. 

The court also restricted BS Yeddyurappa from making any major policy announcement till the results of the floor test come.

The apex court passed the order while responding to a plea moved by the Congress-JD(S) against Karnataka Governor inviting BS Yeddyurappa to form the government in Karnataka. It said that there could be two probabilities -  whether Governor's decision has to be tested or a floor test be held on Saturday.

Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri of the three-member bench then said, ''floor test seems to be the best option.''

However, the Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi sought time till Monday for the floor test in Karnataka Assembly, which was rejected by the top court.

As the hearing began in the apex court, BS Yeddyurappa placed before it the letters he had written to the Governor in which he had staked claim to form govt in Karnataka.

The apex court bench then directed Yeddyurappa's counsel Mukul Rohatgi to give copies of letters to the lawyers representing the Congress-JD(S) combine.

During the hearing, Yeddyurappa told the top court that the Congress-JD(S) combine is an "unholy" alliance.

The single largest party is the mandate of the people of Karnataka who have thrown out the ruling party Congress, Yeddyurappa told the top court.

BSY said this while referring to his May 16 letter to Governor in which he had said that the BJP will give "stable government" and has the support of others.

Amid high drama, BJP legislative party leader BS Yeddyurappa was sworn in as the 23rd chief minister of Karnataka on Thursday at a plain ceremony at the Raj Bhavan. 

The top court had earlier asked BS Yeddyurappa to show the letters of support given by him to the state's Governor ahead of his swearing-in ceremony.

The apex court bench of Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan had given the Attorney General 48 hours to produce the two letters written by the newly sworn-in Karnataka Chief Minister to the Governor staking his claim to form a government.

Attorney General, the top law officer of the country, was given time to procure the documents from the Governor and produce them before the court by 10.30 am on May 18.

The letters, dated May 15 and May 16, were the main centre points of the Governor’s invitation on May 16 evening to Yeddyurappa to form a government the next morning itself.

The three-judge, which conducted an unprecedented overnight haring on Congress and Janata Dal-Secular petition on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday, wanted to vet the contents of the letters - basically to check whether the Governor’s decision to invite Yeddyurappa was an informed one.

The top court bench was also expected to get into the issue of the 15 days time given by the Governor to Yeddyurappa to prove his majority on the floor of the house. The Congress-JD(S) combine has been arguing that the long window will be misused by BJP to trigger defections from rival parties and engineer a majority in the assembly.

Interestingly, former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for BJP in the midnight hearing, was open to the idea of the deadline being reduced to a week or so.

Amid high drama, BJP legislature party leader BS Yeddyurappa was on Thursday morning sworn in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka following an overnight high-voltage legal battle in the Supreme Court.

The 75-year-old Lingayat strongman was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Vajubhai Vala at a ceremony at Raj Bhavan amid loud cheering by his supporters.

Yeddyurappa was administered the oath alone, hours after the Supreme Court refused to stay his swearing-in. Yeddyurappa has been given 15 days to prove his majority in the Assembly.

The BJP has 104 MLAs in the House, eight short of the magic figure of 112.

The Congress (78) and the JD(S) (38) had joined hands after the election and staked claim to form the government. 

Meanwhile, the Congress has said that it would observe 'Save Democracy Day' across the country on Friday in protest against Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to "illegally" invite BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa to form the government in the state. The party late on Thursday put all its MLAs lodged in a resort outside Bengaluru en route an undisclosed location.