Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar said that he needs time to examine the resignation letters submitted by 10 rebel MLAs to ascertain if they are genuine.
This comes on the day the Supreme Court had ordered 10 rebel MLAs to appear before the Speaker regarding their resignations from the Assembly.
In a press conference held at the Vidhana Soudha after the meeting with the rebel MLAs, Ramesh Kumar said, "The MLAs tendered their resignations today. I will follow the Constitution. I have taken their letters. I need to investigate and hear them individually before making a decision. I have already given appointments to five of them. The MLAs who gave the resignation letters later will be called on later dates."
The Supreme Court ordered the 10 rebel MLAs to appear before the Speaker by 6 pm on Thursday. The Speaker was also directed to take a decision on their resignations and inform the top court of his order on Friday.
When asked about the Supreme Court's order, Ramesh Kumar said, "Should I not respect rules or Constitution? I am not under anyone's obligation. I am obligated to come in front of the public of this state."
The rebel MLAs, who were staying in a hotel in Mumbai, rushed to Bengaluru by flight on Thursday afternoon. As directed by the apex court, they were escorted from the airport to the Vidhana Soudha by a convoy of police. They arrived at the Vidhana Soudha shortly after 6 pm, just minutes after the deadline set by the Supreme Court. Hundred policemen including Bengaluru commissioner Alok Kumar escorted the rebel MLAs inside. Visuals even showed MLAs Byrathi Basavaraj running to the Speaker’s office at the Vidhana Soudha.
The Supreme Court had earlier in the day refused to give an urgent hearing to the Speaker’s plea to seek more time and vacate the SC order directing him to decide on resignations of 10 rebel MLAs forthwith. The top court said that the Ramesh Kumar’s plea will be heard along with the plea of the 10 rebel MLAs on Friday.
The 10 rebel MLAs who arrived from Mumbai are Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, BC Patil, ST Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, HD Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda.
The rebel MLAs shifted to Mumbai after submitting their resignations on July 6. Efforts by Congress leader DK Shivakumar to reach out to the MLAs and pacify them failed after the legislators sought police protection from Shivakumar and Kumaraswamy. Shivakumar was then taken into preventive custody by the Mumbai police and released at night.
The Speaker had earlier in the week stated that the resignation letters of 8 MLAs were not in the correct format while five others had submitted them in the correct format- Anand Singh, Ramalinga Reddy Pratapgouda Patil, Narayana Gowda and Gopalaiah. According to officials at the Speaker's office, the resignation letters must be hand-written by the MLAs themselves and must not include additional information like the reasons for resigning.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) head Siddaramaiah issued a whip on Thursday to Congress MLAs to attend the first day of the monsoon session of the Karnataka Assembly beginning on Friday failing which the MLAs will be disqualified under the anti-defection law.
The JD(S) has filed a petition before the Speaker to disqualify the three rebel MLAs from its party while the Congress is yet to file a petition seeking a disqualification against its rebel MLAs. The Congress had earlier filed a petition before the Speaker to disqualify Ramesh Jarkiholi and Mahesh Kumatahalli. The party is yet to file a fresh petition against the other rebel MLAs.