EC agrees in SC to defer Karnataka by-polls until plea of rebels is decided
New Delhi, Sep 26: The Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it would defer the elections to 15 Karnataka Assembly constituencies until the petitions of the disqualified MLAs are decided. Based on this submission the SC deferred hearing on the matter until October 22.
Senior advocate, Kapil Sibal appearing for former speaker, Ramesh Kumar who had issued the disqualification order told the bench that it is not the job of the court or any political party to decide on how the Speaker should decide on resignations. The decision may take time, but he cannot be stopped from enquiring into the circumstances of the resignations.
Explaining the broad facts that were placed before the Speaker, Sibal said that the dissident MLAs stayed at a high security hotel in Mumbai. They flew a jet owned by an MP, hobnobbed with BJP leaders. How can the Speaker not look into them? How can it be said that the resignations are voluntary and hence they must be accepted, Sibal also contended.
Sibal further said that before the dissident MLAs met with the Speaker, they met the Governor. What does the Governor have to do with the going-ons in the House. What exactly was their motive, Sibal further argued.
On Wednesday, the rebels sought to make the Election Commission of India a party in the petition and filed applications to this effect. This was done after the EC had said that these MLAs, disqualified by the Speaker should be allowed to contest the upcoming by-elections in Karnataka.
While Mukul Rohatgi is arguing for the rebels, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is appearing for the office of the Speaker. Rohatgi told the court that the MLAs are not scared to go back to the people. Let the people decide how they have conducted themselves when there is no bar on submitting their resignations, when disqualification petitions are pending, he also said.
The EC had said that the rebels could contest the elections pending the order of the Supreme Court.
17 rebels, 14 from the Congress and 3 from the JD(S) have challenged the order of the former speaker, Ramesh Kumar who had disqualified them.
In the wake of these submissions, the BJP has already started finalising the names of the candidates and in all likelihood field the rebels for the upcoming by-elections. The last date to file the nominations is September 30.