16 July 2019
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Karnataka Speaker what stopped him from deciding whether to accept or reject the resignations tendered by the MLAs of the JD-S-Congress coalition on July 6.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sought a clear response from senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar.
"You were silent on the resignations till the MLAs came to the Supreme Court... Why?" Chief Justice Gogoi asked.
Singhvi said in response that the Speaker filed an affidavit in the apex court explaining what had happened.
Chief Justice Gogoi shot back asking why wasn't a decision taken when the MLAs went to the Speaker with their resignations, to which Singhvi replied that it was a written communication, and the Speaker was not available on that day.
"But the decision was communicated to him on July 6," the court added.
Singhvi said the MLAs first met the Speaker personally on July 11, under the rules of the Assembly they are supposed to make personal presentation before the Speaker.
"The first condition of a genuine resignation tendered by MLAi s that he has to be personally present before the Speaker," argued Singhvi.
The court taking a sharp jibe on this line of argument said the provision does not negate resigning by letter, but if the MLA has made a personal visit to the Speaker then he has to decide on the resignation immediately.
"Why it (decision) didn't happen on July 11?" the court further queried.
Referring to the Karnataka Speaker, the Chief Justice said that he cannot question the jurisdiction power of this court.
"The court to your benefit had ordered a floor test (referring to the last year floor test), appointed a protem Speaker during a midnight hearing. The exercise of jurisdiction of our powers depend only on self-restraint," he added.
On this question of the apex court whether the Speaker is challenging the power the court, Singhvi replied: "Suppose a Speaker goes crazy, then Your Lordships can intervene." He emphasized the Speaker was in no way questioning the court's jurisdiction.
Before Singhvi, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi representing the rebel MLAs had argued before the court.
The Chief Justice asked Rohtagi: "We cannot say, in which way, the Speaker should decide resignation or disqualification of MLAs. We cannot fetter him. Although, the important question, is there any constitutional obligation for the Speaker to decide resignation before disqualification or to club his decision on both?"
The hearing on the matter will continue at 2 p.m.