In a major boost for the BJP government in the state, a third judge in the Karnataka High Court today upheld the disqualification of 11 rebel BJP MLAs, concurring with the decision of the Chief Justice.
Justice V G Sabhahit, to whom the division bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar had referred the matter, upheld Speaker K G Bopaiah’s order disqualifying the dissident MLAs. The Speaker’s order of disqualification was in accordance with Para 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution – anti-defection law, observed Justice Sabhahit, who has concurred with the ruling given by the Chief Justice earlier.
The division bench, which also consists of Justice N Kumar, had earlier given a split verdict with Justice Kumar setting aside the Speaker’s order. The bench had then referred the matter to the third judge. Justice Sabhahit today placed his order before the division bench for delivering its formal orders.
Today’s order of the court comes as a major victory for the BJP, which has been plagued by dissidence and scraped through a confidence vote in the Assembly on October 14 after 16 disqualified MLAs were kept out of the Assembly. BJP counsel Satya Pal Jain hailed the third judge’s order saying this gave a good signal to defectors.
But the JD(S), which has spearheaded the dissidence in BJP by taking its MLAs out of the state before the confidence vote, reacted saying ‘it is only an intermediate state. We are going to knock at the doors of the Supreme Court and hope the issue will be decided in our favour’.
The case of disqualification of other five Independent MLAs, who have also challenged the Speaker’s action, will come up for hearing on November 2.
The ruling BJP and Opposition Congress-JDS combine have been waiting for the verdict, which has an impact on the party position in the Assembly and the stability of the first saffron government in the south headed by B S Yeddyurappa. The court on October 21 had declined the plea by five Independents, who also have been disqualified, to allow them to vote during the second motion of confidence moved by Yeddyurappa on October 22 or their votes be kept in a sealed cover till the court decides on their petition.
However, the court had then declared that the result of the second floor test would be subject to its final order on the petition by Independent MLAs. In the first confidence vote on October 11, the government won a controversial vote by a voice vote in the midst of pandemonium.
The Speaker had disqualified the MLAs on the eve of the first vote. Governor H R Bhardwaj refused to accept the result of the first trust vote and called for a second vote on October 14, which Yeddyurappa won by a 106-100 margin.(PTI)