Karnataka Crisis| Speaker free to decide but 15 rebel MLAs can’t be forced to attend the Trust Vote: SC

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, JJ has requested the Karnataka Speaker to decide on the resignations of 15 rebel congress MLAs as soon as possible but has said that the MLAs cannot be compelled to attend the Trust Vote tomorrow.

The question before the Court was whether resignations submitted by Members of the Legislative Assembly at a point of time earlier than petitions for their disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution should have priority in the decision making process or whether both sets of proceedings should be taken up simultaneously or the disqualification proceedings should have precedence over the request(s) for resignation.

The Court, however, said that in the light of the facts and circumstances surrounding the same, the aforesaid questions should receive an answer only at a later stage of the proceedings. It said that the imperative necessity, at this stage, is to maintain the constitutional balance and the conflicting and competing rights. It, hence, permitted the Hon’ble Speaker of the House to decide on the request for resignations by the 15 Members of the House within such time frame as the Hon’ble Speaker may consider appropriate. It said,

“the discretion of the Hon’ble Speaker while deciding the above issue should not be fettered by any direction or observation of this Court and the Hon’ble Speaker should be left free to decide the issue in accordance with Article 190 3 read with Rule 202 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly framed in exercise of the powers under Article 208 of the Constitution.”

The Court directed that the order of the Hon’ble Speaker on the resignation issue, as and when passed, be placed before the Court.

The Bench also made it clear that until further orders,

“the 15 Members of the Assembly, ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or to opt to remain out of the same.”

The Trust Vote will take place on 18.07.2019.

[Pratap Gouda Patil v. State of Karnataka, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 863, order dated 17.07.2019]

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