The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered 10 rebel MLAs, who are in Mumbai, to appear before Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar by 6pm on Thursday. The top court has ordered the Speaker to grant them an audience where they will be able to present their resignations. The Speaker will have to pass an order on the plea of resignations, which will be then conveyed to the Supreme Court on Friday.
The apex court was hearing a petition filed by the 10 rebel MLAs—Pratap Gouda Patil, Ramesh Jarkhiholi, Byrati Basavaraj, BC Patil, ST Somashekar, Arbail Sivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, K Gopalaiah, HD Vishwanath and Narayan Gowda— seeking the SC to direct the Speaker accept their resignations.
Appearing before the Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatagi, representing the rebel MLAs said, “We are now 15 MLAs who want to resign but no formal acceptance by Speaker. Idea is not to defect, but resign so that we can go back to public and contest.”
However, the order will apply only to the 10 MLAs who filed a petition before the top court. “The other MLAs can move court today or tomorrow and seek the same order,” Mukul Rohatagi told reporters after the hearing.
"The 10 MLAs have been directed to appear before the Speaker by 6 pm on Thursday, which means, they will fly from Mumbai to Bengaluru. The Speaker is directed to give the MLAs an audience as it is learnt that this has not happened. The case will be placed before the court tomorrow,” Mukul Rohatagi said.
The SC has also ordered Karnataka DGP Neelamni Raju to ensure protection to these 10 MLAs who want to meet Speaker to inform him of their resignation.
“The DGP Karnataka has been directed to provide police protection to the 10 MLAs when they arrive in Bengaluru. They can tell the Speaker what their issues are and that they have voluntarily resigned. This order is only applicable to the 10 MLAs who have moved to the SC," added Rohatagi.
The matter will be heard again at the top court on Friday.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the SC’s observation, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar questioned the motive of the BJP in urging him to make a swift decision. He said, “Why are they so desperate about resignations being accepted of rebel MLAs. There have been numerous instances in the past that decisions were taken in months’ time.”
10 rebel MLAs have been camped at a Mumbai hotel since July 6. Efforts by Congress leader DK Shivakumar to reach out to the MLAs and pacify them failed on Wednesday, with the legislators even seeking police protection from Shivakumar and Kumaraswamy. Shivakumar was later taken into preventive custody by the Mumbai police and released later at night.
At present, the Congress- JD(S) coalition has just 101 MLAs in the Assembly, including the Speaker and BSP MLA Mahesh. The BJP has 107 legislators including independent MLA H Nagesh and KPJP MLA R Sankar. The majority mark is 105.
However, the coalition hopes that they will be able to convince at least a few MLAs to take back their resignations. With Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar saying that the MLAs have to come before him personally to submit their resignations, the Congress hopes that once these MLAs reach Bengaluru, they will be able to meet and convince them.
On the other hand, the Congress had also sought disqualification of these warring MLA on grounds of anti-party activities and has also sought that they be debarred from contesting for elections for 6 years.