The Supreme Court may have directed 10 rebel lawmakers from Karnataka to meet Speaker Ramesh Kumar today, but there is no clarity on whether their resignations will be accepted in the coming hours.
"I can't answer that question, it depends," said the Speaker, when asked if he will take a decision on the resignations today. "But yes, I am duty-bound to meet the rebel MLAs at 6 pm."
While the 10 lawmakers allege that the Speaker's refusal to accept their resignations is aimed at helping the Congress-Janata Dal Secular (JDS) coalition, the latter insists that the letters were not submitted to him in the proper format. They are among the 18 legislators who have quit the ruling coalition over the last few days, sending the HD Kumaraswamy government to the brink of collapse.
Earlier today, the top court asked Ramesh Kumar to decide on the status of the resignations by the end of the day. The Speaker petitioned against the order, stating that he needs more time to decide whether the resignations are coerced or voluntary. "It is my constitutional duty to verify the resignations, and such an inquiry cannot be completed forthwith or by 12 midnight today," he said.
According to the rebel lawmakers, the Speaker is sitting on their resignation letters to give negotiators of the Congress-JDS combine some much-needed time to shore up their numbers in the state assembly. In his petition to the top court, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi -- who is representing the lawmakers -- accused the Speaker of "making himself scarce instead of doing what he is supposed to do".
The Speaker, who says he was not in office when the resignation letters came in, had examined them on Tuesday and rejected eight -- asking the lawmakers to meet him on July 17. However, despite the extended deadline provided by the Speaker, a desperate Congress has been unable to coax the rebel legislators back into the fold.
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