NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision of the then Karnataka speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to disqualify 17 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs and said that they can contest the upcoming by-elections in the state.
In July this year, Former Karnataka assembly speaker K R Ramesh Kumar had disqualified 17 MLAs under the anti-defection act. They were also barred from contesting polls for the duration of the current assembly, which is slated to end in 2023.
The MLAs had challenged the orders of the Ramesh Kumar to disqualify them ahead of a trust vote in July.
On October 25, a three-judge bench of justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari had reserved its verdict on the petitions filed by these disqualified MLAs.
"We are upholding the order of the Speaker," said Justice Ramana while reading out the judgment.
The top court said that resignation does not take away the power of disqualification by the speaker.
"Since we are deciding disqualification, resignation is not needed to be gone into. As such there is no doubt that disqualification has nothing to do with resignation," the court said.
The disqualification move had led to falling of the Congress-JD (S) coalition government, paving way for BJP to stake claim to form a new government in the state.
After their disqualification, the strength of the 224-member Assembly had come down to 207. This had brought down the majority mark to 104. The BJP, which helms the government in the state, has 106 MLAs in the Assembly.
The then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy had resigned after losing the trust vote, which paved the way for the BJP-led government in the state under BS Yediyurappa. The Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka collapsed with 99 members voting for the motion and 105 against it in a House with an effective strength of 205 members.
With the by-poll elections, the majority mark will climb to 222 and the BJP will have to win a minimum of six out of fifteen seats to keep its majority.
On September 28, the Election Commission had announced that the by-polls for 15 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka will be held on December 5.
By-polls to 15 out of these 17 assembly seats which fell vacant following the disqualification of MLAs.
The elections to these seats were earlier slated for October 21 but later postponed to December 5 by the Election Commission (EC) as the case pertaining to the disqualification of 17 MLAs was pending in the Supreme Court.
The poll body had withheld the elections for two seats -- Maski and Rajarajeshwari -- as the petitions against these Assembly constituencies are pending in the Karnataka High Court.
The poll for 15 Assembly constituencies namely Athani, Kagwad, Gokak, Yellapur, Hirekerur, Ranibennur, Vijayanagara, Chikkaballapur, K.R. Pura, Yeshvanthapura, Mahalakshmi, Shivajinagar, Hosakote, Krishnarajpet and Hunsur, will be conducted from 7 am to 6 pm.
The candidates can submit their nominations from November 11 till November 18. November 19 has been finalised as the date for the scrutiny of nominations and November 21 as the last date for withdrawal of nominations.