Relief for Karnataka CM, independent MLAs petitions dismissed

Bangalore, Feb 14 (PTI) In a relief to the ruling BJP,the Karnataka High Court today upheld Speaker K G Bopaiah''sorder disqualifying five independent MLAs, who had withdrawnsupport to the government, from the assembly membership on theeve of October 11 trust vote which it won.

"... We are of the view that the impugned order passedby the Speaker is not in violation of constitutional mandatenor is there any infirmity based on malafides or perversity,"a full bench of the court said in a 190-page verdict,dismissing their petitions challenging the disqualification.

Gulihatti D Shekar, Venkataramanappa, P MNarendraswamy, D Sudhakar and Shivaraj Thangadagi -- allelected as Independents -- were disqualified by the Speaker onOctober ten, a day before the B S Yeddyurappa government tooka vote of confidence on the floor of the Assembly which it wonby voice-vote amid pandemonium.

The BJP government later accepted an offer made by thegovernor to seek the trust vote again, if it wished, onOctober 14 and won it 106 votes in favour and 100 against.

On October six, these five MLAs along with 11 rebelBJP MLAs had submitted a letter to Bhardwaj withdrawingsupport to Yeddyurappa.

Bopaiah had passed the concurrent order on separatepetitions filed by BJP MLAs C T Ravi and D N Jeevaraj, who isalso Chief Whip of the BJP legislature party, and a voter eachfrom their five Assembly segments they represented seekingdisqualification on grounds of defection.

The disqualified MLAs filed the petitions in the highcourt praying for quashing of the Speaker''s order as illegal,void and not enforceable.

During the hearing, the disqualified MLAs throughtheir counsel argued that they never joined the BJP, whilethe rival petitioners submitted that by their conduct they hadlost independent character and indeed had joined the party.

While pronouncing the orders, the bench, comprisingJustices Mohan Shantanagoudar, S Abdul Nazeer and A S Bopanna,held that the complaints filed by the five voters from theirconstituencies seeking disqualification are maintainable,rejecting the contention of the petitioners that they have nolocus standi.

The bench observed that it is not in dispute that thepetitioners have acted in accordance with the directionsissued by the Chief Whip.

"If really the petitioners were not the members of thelegislature party of BJP, they would not have received the''whip'' sent by the Chief Whip of that party," the order noted.


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