- "Status quo will remain on the legislators," the top court said
- Speaker had been asked to inform the court of his decision last night
- Speaker Ramesh Kumar told court he hadn't decided on resignation letters
Karnataka's teetering coalition today won a reprieve till Tuesday as the Supreme Court said there would be no decision on the resignation of dissident lawmakers who threaten the government's survival.
"In view of the weighty issue that have arisen, we are of the view that the matter be considered by us on Tuesday. We are of the view that the status quo as of today with regard to the prevailing situation be maintained. Neither the issue of resignation nor that of disqualification be decided till Tuesday," the Supreme Court said after hour-long arguments involving the lawyers for the rebels, Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar and Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.
The Speaker told the court that he had not decided on the resignation letters of the dissidents, some of whom met him last evening. The court, which had asked for the Speaker's decision by last night, questioned whether the Speaker had the power to challenge its order.
The 10 lawmakers who met the Speaker with blank papers and submitted their resignations again told the court that Ramesh Kumar had questioned their move to go to the Supreme Court and had said "go to hell" to them in front of the media.
The resignation of 18 lawmakers is yet to be accepted by Mr Kumar. He had rejected many letters on grounds of "wrong format" so the lawmakers reportedly wrote down fresh resignations in front of him yesterday. Later, they flew back to Mumbai, where they have been staying since they quit on Saturday.
The Speaker had been asked to inform the court of his decision last night, but he said: "You can't expect me to work at lightning speed."
He had asked the Supreme Court for time to examine whether the resignations were coerced or voluntary.
The BJP, which will have a majority if the resignations are accepted, says the coalition government must resign because it has "lost its moral authority to rule." The party has been accused by the Congress and the JDS of crafting the crisis to try and seize power in Karnataka, more than a year after it fell short of a majority in state polls.
If the resignations are accepted, the coalition's 118 members will come down to 100 and the majority mark will drop from 113 to 105. The BJP has 105 members and the support of the two Independents, which takes its tally to 107.
The Karnataka assembly met amid questions over the ruling coalition's survival. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy tweeted last night that he was "confident" despite "efforts to destabilise" his government.
The Congress has ordered its lawmakers to attend the session and so has the JDS, which had put up its members at a resort just outside Bengaluru to keep its flock intact.