NEW DELHI: The
on Wednesday upheld the disqualification of the 17 rebel
and JD(S) MLAs in
but allowed them to contest the upcoming bypolls in the state.
The bypolls are scheduled to be held on December 5.
The SC said the Speaker cannot disqualify an MLA till the end of the term of the assembly, which means the disqualified MLAs can contest the bypolls, nominations for which are being filed. The BJP is likely to field the rebels on most of the seats.
The apex court said that if elected, the MLAs can become ministers in the state cabinet or hold public office.
A bench comprising justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari said, “We do not appreciate the manner in which the petitioners came to the court without approaching the high court first.”
The SC further said that its verdict is based on facts and circumstance of case and that it does not interfere in speaker’s power to disqualify the members, adding that a speaker while examining a resignation could only inquire whether it is voluntary or not.
The top court said that the constitutional obligation and morality is applicable to both the government and opposition in a legislature.
The 17 MLAs were disqualified in July by then Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar and barred from contesting polls for the duration of the assembly. It had led to the fall of the Congress-JD (S) coalition government in the state, paving way for BJP to stake claim to form a new government in the state.
BJP’s Karnataka chief Nalin Kumar Kateel welcomed the SC decision on the disqualified MLAs and said, “The core committee will meet today evening and decide on the candidature for the upcoming by-elections.”
The disgruntled MLAs then moved the apex court challenging their disqualification. They sought quashing of the order passed by the speaker and prohibition imposed on them to contest elections. The matter was reserved by the SC on October 25.
The elections for 15 out of 17 seats are slated to be held on December 5. They were earlier scheduled to be conducted on October 21 but were deferred by the Election Commission as the petitions of disqualified MLAs were pending in the top court.
The poll body had withheld the elections for two seats – Maski and Rajarajeshwari – as the petitions against these assembly constituencies are pending in the Karnataka high court.
The disqualified MLAs are: Pratap Gowda Patil, BC Patil, Shivram Hebbar, ST Somashekar, Byrati Basavaraj, Anand Singh, R Roshan Baig, N Munirathna, K Sudhakar and MTB Nagaraj, Shrimant Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Mahesh Kumatalli and R Shankar (all Congress). JD(S) members who faced action are K Gopalaiah, AH Vishwanath and KC Narayana Gowda.