The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Speaker and the 10 rebel Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) belonging to the Congress Janta Dal (Secular) government in Karnataka to maintain status quo as of today with respect to their resignation. The top court will next hear the matter on July 16, when it will decide on the larger question of constitutionality of the MLAs resigning and whether the speaker could be given directions by the court.
The issue of maintainability of the rebel MLAs' petition under Article 32 of the Constitution was also raised by counsels for the state’s Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, and Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar.
A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that Kumar would neither decide the issue of resignation of the MLAs nor that of their disqualification. This, the three judge Bench said, would enable the court to decide the larger issues raised by the respective parties during the hearing.
During the hearing on Thursday, the Supreme Court had allowed 10 rebel MLAs to meet the Speaker and convey to him their decision to resign. The 10 MLAs had to meet the Speaker by 6 PM and the latter had to take a decision by midnight. During the hearing on Friday, however, the court was told that the Speaker had not come to a decision yet as he had to verify the resignations of the MLAs.
The 10 rebel MLAs who have moved SC have alleged that the Assembly Speaker was not accepting their resignations. The MLAs of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S) coalition, who have filed the petition, are Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, B C Patil, S T Somashekhar, Arbail Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, A H Vishwanath, and Narayana Gowda.
The 10 MLAs had also alleged on Thursday that when they initially went to meet the Speaker of the Assembly on July 6, he left his office through the backdoor to avoid meeting them. On Friday, however, the court was told that all the MLAs who had come to meet the speaker had on video accepted that the latter had never avoided meeting them and neither had he absconded from his house.