Bengaluru, Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar on Wednesday said he would follow the Supreme Court’s order that the 15 rebel legislators of the ruling Congress-JD-S allies cannot be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the House on Thursday for floor test on trust vote.
“I will follow the Supreme Court order on the resignations of 15 rebel MLAs within a time-frame, as advised. I will not delay in deciding on the resignations,” Kumar told reporters in Kannada at his residence in Kolar, about 100 km east of Bengaluru.
As directed by the apex court, Kumar said, he would not force the rebel legislators to attend the Assembly session on Thursday for participating in the trust vote Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy would move to prove if his coalition government has majority or not in the House.
In their joint petitions, the rebels also pleaded with the court to permit them to abstain from the Assembly session on Thursday as they had resigned before a whip was issued by their parties to be present in the House for the floor test.
“The trust-vote would take place on Thursday as fixed by the Assembly business advisory committee on Monday to enable Kumaraswamy prove he has majority in the House through a floor test after debate by the ruling and opposition members,” said Kumar.
Earlier in the day, the top court’s three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said the Speaker was free to decide on the resignations within a time-frame as well as on their disqualifications recommended by the ruling allies.
“We uphold the discretion powers of the Speaker in deciding on the resignations and disqualifications. At the same time, the rebel legislators cannot be compelled to attend the Assembly session and their party’s whip will not be applicable to them,” said the bench in the interim order.
Clarifying that he was like an umpire in the game of cricket, Kumar said he had no stakes in the trust vote and matters little to him who wins or loses in the floor test though he was elected on a Congress ticket from Kolar segment in the May 2018 state Assembly elections.
“I will strictly go by the Assembly rules in conducting the business of the house and follow the Constitution on the resignations as well as disqualifications as directed by the apex court,” asserted Kumar.
Of the 16 rebel legislators who resigned, including 13 from the Congress and three from the JD-S, 15 of them petitioned the Supreme Court on July 10 and July 13 for directing the Speaker to accept their resignations forthwith.
Senior Congress lawmaker R. Ramalinga Reddy did not move the top court on his resignation, which he submitted in the Speaker’s office on July 6 and was found to be in order.
“The Speaker is free to pass appropriate orders under the Article 190 of the Constitution and relevant rules on the resignations of the legislators,” said the order.
The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, directed the Speaker to place his decisions on the resignations before it for judicial review.
“The discretion granted to the Assembly Speaker under the Constitution to exercise his/her powers must not be interfered with for the time being,” said the apex court order.