By-elections on 15 assembly seats in Karnataka -- where the MLAs were disqualified earlier this year for rebelling and bringing down the earlier Congress-JDS government - will be deferred. The Election Commission today told the Supreme Court that it has decided to postpone the election so the Court can take a call on the petitions of the disqualified MLAs who have challenged the Speaker's decision.
The hearing in the case started yesterday; the top court said they had heard it for two days and does not want to pass any interim order. The court will now take up the case on October 22.
The by-elections were expected to be held on October 21 and the results were due by October 24.
By-elections were supposed to be held in the state if the court decided to uphold the disqualifications. But last week, the Commission announced the by-elections, setting the date along with the state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.
The MLAs were disqualified in July by then Speaker K R Ramesh when they resigned, allowing the BJP to challenge the 14-month-old coalition government of the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular, and stake claim to power.
The disqualified MLAs then approached the court, challenging the Speaker's order, which , they said, was "arbitrary" and "unreasonable".
The petitioners say the action of the Speaker was "arbitrary" and "unreasonable".
They contended that the Speaker was abusing his powers under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution says legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection. They said disqualifying them till the dissolution of the house is a breach of their fundamental right to carry on any trade, business and profession guaranteed under the Articles 19 and 21.
The MLAs have argued in court that they have the right to resign and if they do not quit the party they cannot be punished through disqualification under the anti-defection law, which seeks to prevent defections for money or other considerations.
The Congress and the JDS have both alleged that the BJP had used money power to persuade the MLAs to resign. Both parties had expelled the rebels. There were also reports that the MLAs were offered ministerial berths by the BJP.
Earlier this year, 13 MLAs from the Congress and three from the JDS had resigned, and two Independent lawmakers who were supporting the government switched sides, bringing down the numbers of the government. After days of high-drama and heated debates, the government failed the trust vote, leading to the formation of the BJP government led by BS Yediyurappa on July 26.