The Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing the petition of 10 dissident MLAs of Congress and JD(S) seeking a direction to the Karnataka Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to accept their resignation and not proceed with the application for their disqualification.
The hearing was adjourned till noon and will continue hearing the arguments in the Karnataka political crisis matter post lunch.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Deepak Gupta heard the submissions made by Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared on the behalf of the rebel legislators.
During the course of proceeding, Rohatgi contended that all the 10 petitioners had resigned on July 10 and that the decision to accept their resignation and disqualify them are two distinct things.
The counsel added that disqualification cannot be mixed with up with the resignation.
"The rule My Lord is straight. The disqualification is like a mini-trial and it is a matter of evidence," he said.
He said that there was an attempt to scuttle their resignations.
"The Speaker is trying to make a decision on both the issues-resignation and disqualification-at the same time," Rohatgi added.
"I do not want to be an MLA. Nobody can force me. My resignation must be accepted. I want to go back to the public. The resignation must be decided and you (speaker) are only to accept it. It is my rights and my rights should not be infringed," he submitted.
When Ranjan Gogoi asked Rohatgi about what would happen in case an MLA resigns, the latter said they could "join any party and become a minister". On being asked if they can choose their own party, the counsel replied in affirmative.
He further said that the "Speaker cannot hold the resignation for many days as the rule says that it has to be decided soon".
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing Speaker KR Ramesh, said that four of the MLAs who had resigned did not even present themselves before the Speaker.
"The rules are clear, the member of the house have to personally appear before the speaker," he said.
Singhvi affirmed when asked by the CJI if the resignations were not genuine.
The Supreme Court had earlier taken up the petitions of 10 dissident MLAs and directed the Speaker to maintain the status quo on their resignation and disqualification till July 16.
The plea was filed by Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar and Mahesh Kumathalli from Congress and K Gopalaiah, H D Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda from JD(S).
The five rebel MLAs - K Sudhakar, Roshan Baig, MTB Nagaraj, Muniratna and Anand Singh - had approached the Court on Saturday contending they had resigned "voluntarily" and that their resignation must be accepted by the Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.
The 13-month-old Congress-JD(S) government had slumped into crisis ever since 10 MLAs resigned from the membership of the state Assembly on July 6.
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