Karnataka Speaker turns down CM’s request, summons rebel legislators

New Delhi / Bengaluru: Amid the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka, Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar has reportedly turned down a request from Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy to give him two more days to prove his majority in the House.

According to reports, Kumaraswamy requested time till Wednesday, but Ramesh did not accept it. Also, the Speaker has summoned rebel MLAs to meet him in person Tuesday, it is said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today refused to urgently list a plea of two Independent Karnataka MLAs seeking holding of floor test forthwith, but said it may consider listing of the petition Tuesday. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “Impossible. We have never done this before. Tomorrow we may see to it.”

The bench’s remarks came when senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the two legislators — R Shankar and H Nagesh, said he has filed a new petition in the Karnataka matter and sought its urgent listing.

Rohatgi said the floor test is being delayed on one pretext or the other. He said when the Congress-JD(S) coalition can take orders for holding of floor test earlier, then same order can be issued now. To this the bench said, “We will see tomorrow.” The two MLAs, who withdrew support to the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka, moved the top court seeking a direction to the H D Kumaraswamy-led government for conducting a floor test in the state Assembly on or before 5 pm on Monday.

They said that the State has plunged into a political crisis after they withdrew their support to the government and 16 lawmakers of the ruling coalition tendered their resignations.

“It is submitted that the trust vote is not being conducted despite the government being in minority. It is submitted that a minority government, which does not have the confidence of the majority, is being allowed to continue in office,” they said in their plea.

The plea has further said, “The petitioners have been constrained to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India seeking a direction from this court to conduct a floor test forthwith in the Karnataka Assembly.”

The Independent legislators said that Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala had sent messages to the house under Article 175(2) of the Constitution asking for completion of vote of confidence, but the same were not adhered to and the trust vote debate continued unending.

The legislators have accused the government of taking advantage of the logjam and taking several executive decisions like transferring of police officers, IAS officers, other officials.

“It is apprehended that the chief minister of Karnataka, who is heading the minority government, may make himself scarce from the proceedings on 22 July, 2019. It has been reliably learnt that in a desperate attempt to avoid the trust vote, the chief minister of Karnataka may also rake up an emergent situation and use medical emergencies, including hospitalisation to avoid the trust vote,” the plea has said.

The Independent MLAs’ petition comes two days after Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and State Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao moved the top court accusing the Governor of interfering with the Assembly’s proceedings during the debate on trust vote.

Kumaraswamy and Rao had filed separate applications after the deadlines set by the governor to conclude the proceedings of the confidence motion were not met.

They had also sought a clarification of the 17 July order of the apex court by which the 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs were granted relief that they cannot be compelled to participate in the ongoing assembly proceedings. All the petitions are moved at a time when the Karnataka Assembly is debating the confidence motion moved by Kumaraswamy.

NT Bureau