SC orders floor test in K’taka today

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 May 2018 10:11:29




THE new Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa was on Friday ordered by the Supreme Court to face a floor test in the State Assembly on Saturday itself after it drastically reduced the 15-day deadline set by the Governor for him to prove his majority. As the apex court fixed the time for the floor test at 4 pm, the numbers were stacked against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) barring any defections or making MLAs of the rival JD(S)-Congress combine to resign or abstain from voting for it to get majority in the bitter struggle for power mired in allegations of bribery.

The BJP has emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, followed by the Congress with 78, JD(S) with 37 and three seats have gone to others in the 224-member Assembly where elections were held for 222 seats. The BJP is short by 8 seats.As the BJP and the Congress-JD(S) alliance geared up for the expected showdown confident the outcome will be in their favour, another legal battle was on the cards over the appointment of BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as the pro-tem speaker by Governor Vajubhai Vala. Usually the senior-most member of the Assembly is appointed making Congress’ R V Deshpande qualified for the post.

“We will abide by the Supreme Court verdict. We have got 100 per cent support and cooperation to prove the majority,” Yeddyurappa, who took the oath of office on Thursday, told reporters in Bengaluru shortly after the apex court’s order. The 75-year-old Lingayat strongman, who was given 15 days time to prove his majority on the floor of the House, faces an uphill task to shore up the numbers.On the other hand, JD(S) chief and the rival camp’s chief ministerial candidate H D Kumaraswamy said that he had “complete faith” in the MLAs of the alliance and would defeat the motion of vote of confidence with the “blessings and support” of Congress leaders.

Former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah addressed a meeting of newly-elected Congress party legislators who have been camping in Hyderabad, said JD(S) MLC Basavaraj.“All of us are together,” said Siddaramaiah. Basavaraj said that as many as 36 legislators belonging to the JD(S) and 77 of the Congress are currently camping in the hotels.“Let the House decide and the best course would be floor test,” said a three-judge apex court bench headed by Justice A K Sikri.

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, turned down Yeddyurappa’s request for a secret ballot during the floor test. It also directed the Karnataka Government and the Governor not to nominate any MLA from the Anglo-Indian community to participate in the floor test . The bench asked the newly-elected Government not to take any major policy decision till it proves majority in the House. It made it clear that it would deal with the constitutionality of the Governor’s letter inviting Yeddyurappa to form the Government later.

The top court said that the pro-tem Speaker will take decisions in accordance with the law on the issue of floor test and ordered the authorities, including the Director General of Police, to ensure law and order outside the state Assembly.The bench said that ultimately the question is about majority which has to be proved in the floor test.The majority mark is 112 seats and the post-poll alliance strength of the Congress-JD(S) combine, which claims to have 117 MLAs, has alleged foul play in the Governor inviting BJP to form the Government.

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the BJP and Yeddyurappa, sought reasonable time till Monday for the floor test but the bench ordered for Saturday.Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the rival combine, said that the question is whether the Governor was correct to call the party which has less numbers than the alliance which has the majority, has to be tested upon.

Rohatgi told the bench that there was no pre-poll alliance between the Congress and JD(S) and they have formed an “unholy alliance” after the elections. The bench gave clear-cut four-step instructions for holding the floor test for ascertaining the majority or otherwise of the Yedyurappa Government. It enumerated the four steps that have to be followed for holding the floor test, directing the immediate appointment of the pro-tem Speaker, holding the oath ceremony for all elected members tomorrow. This exercise has to be completed before 4 pm when the floor test will be held to ascertain the majority. Hailing the court order as “historic”, the Congress accused the BJP of being “baffled” and “frustrated” as it lacks numbers to prove majority.

Bopaiah appointed pro-tem Speaker; Cong-JD(S) challenge decision in SC



SENIOR Bharatiya Jantaa Party (BJP) MLA K G Bopaiah, who as the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly had disqualified 16 MLAs and bailed out the B S Yeddyurappa Government ahead of a no-confidence vote in 2010, was on Friday appointed the pro-tem Speaker to conduct the crucial floor test on Saturday. The appointment riled the Congress-JD (S) combine who on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to appoint Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker, with the top court deciding to hear it on Saturday morning.

Late Friday night, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra decided to list the matter before the three-judge bench, headed by Justice A K Sikri, which has been hearing the case. The matter will be heard by the bench, which also comprises Justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhusha, at 10.30 am, much ahead of the trust vote slated at 4 pm.The Congress-JD(S) plea, filed through advocate Dev Dutt Kamath, was placed in the evening before the Registrar of the top court but some defects were pointed out in it, which were later corrected.

The cured plea was submitted late at Friday night at the Registry and the Registrar of the top court rushed to the residence of the CJI for directions on the listing of the matter.In the application, the combine has demanded setting aside of the decision to appoint BJP MLA Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker saying it was contrary to the tradition, as per which the post goes to the senior-most legislator. A four-time MLA, Bopaiah was the Karnataka Assembly Speaker from 2009 to 2013.

Hitting out at Governor Vajubhai Vala for the decision, the Congress called him an “agent” of the BJP, and noted that R V Deshpande of the Congress, the senior-most member of the House, should have been appointed in Bopaiah’s place.The Governor appointed Bopaiah “as the person before whom a member of the Legislative Assembly shall, before taking his seat, make and subscribe an oath or affirmation.”Shortly after issuing the notification for the appointment, the Governor administered the oath to Bopaiah.

The Supreme Court had in 2011 quashed Bopaiah’s decision to disqualify 16 MLAs ahead of the no-confidence motion which had ensured the survival of the Yeddyurappa Government.The apex court had then said that basic constitutional values and principles of natural justice were not observed by Bopaiah in disqualifying the 11 rebel BJP and five Independent legislators. “Shocking decision by the Hon’ble Governor Constitutional Convention says the senior most, in this case RV Deshpande should’ve been named,” Karnataka Congress working President Dinesh Gundu Rao said in a tweet.He said, “Also Supreme Court had passed structures (sic) against the conduct of KG Bopiah as Speaker. Sad to see Vajubhai Valaji behaving like an agent of BJP.”


SC’s four-step roadmap for today’s floor test

THE Supreme Court gave clear-cut four-step instructions for holding the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly on Saturday .

Immediate appointment of the Pro-tem Speaker

Holding oath ceremony for all elected members by 4 pm on Saturday

Providing adequate and sufficient security arrangements under supervision of Director General of Police, Karnataka, to avoid any lapse on this count

Yeddyurappa will not take any policy decision till the end of floor test.