- Supreme Court to hear petitions of 17 Karnataka MLAs today
- By-polls have to be held if court decides to uphold disqualifications
- Petitioners say action of Speaker was "arbitrary" and "unreasonable"
Petitions challenging the disqualification of some of the 17 rebel MLAs of the Karnataka assembly - whose resignation led to the collapse of the Congress-HD Kumaraswamy's coalition government earlier this year -- is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court today. By-elections have to be held in the state if the court decides to uphold the disqualifications.
The petitioners say the action of the Speaker was "arbitrary" and "unreasonable". They contend it is an abuse of his powers under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution - which lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection -- and the MLAs' fundamental right to carry on any trade, business and profession guaranteed under the Articles 19 and 21.
They want the court to overrule the order of the Speaker, who had disqualified from the assembly till the end of its term.
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 and stake claim to power.
Thirteen 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 Yeddiyurappa on July 26.
The Congress and the JDS had alleged that the BJP had used money power to persuade the MLAs to resign. Both parties had expelled the rebels.
Welcoming the Speaker's move, Congress's Siddaramaiah had tweeted, saying the "honest decision of speaker will send strong signals for all the representatives in the country who might fall for BJP's trap".
The nine MLAs whose petitions will be heard tomorrow include Congress rebels Ramesh Jarikiholi, K Sudhakar and Roshan Baig. Though the other disqualified MLAs have also gone to court, their petitions are not listed for tomorrow's hearing.
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