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Karnataka: Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar disqualifies three Congress MLAs

Karnataka Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. Photograph:( ANI )

ANI Bengaluru, Karnataka Jul 26, 2019, 08.57 AM (IST)

Three rebel Congress MLAs in Karnataka were on Thursday disqualified by Assembly Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar in a significant development as the BJP deliberates at the highest level on staking claim to form the government in the state.

Announcing the decisions on the disqualification, he said the decision on 14 other rebel legislators would be taken in a couple of days after going through their resignations and the complaints for disqualification against them in detail.

Those disqualified were R Shankar, Ramesh Jharkiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli.

They have incurred disqualification as member of the 15th State Legislative Assembly under Para 2(1) (a) of the tenth Schedule of the Constitution and under 191(a) of the Constitution of India. They cease to be members of the Assembly till the expiry of the term that is May 23, 2023, the order by the Speaker said.

Addressing a press conference, Kumar said the three MLAs--R Shankar (Ranibennur), Ramesh Jharkiholi (Gokak) and Mahesh Kumathalli (Athani)--have incurred disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution (anti-defection law) and the disqualification would last till the end of the term of the Assembly May 23, 2023.

They cannot contest the by-election too, he added.

Kumar said the cases of the three MLAs were taken up first because there were petitions for their disqualification already pending much before the recent political developments that led to the trial of strength the government had lost.

"I had considered both the issues of their resignations and disqualification. I rejected their resignations because they were not in order and took up their disqualification and passed my order as I have enough evidence before me," he said.

The Speaker said the MLAs were free to approach the Supreme Court or the High Court for their legal remedies.

Speaking about Jarkiholi and Kumtahalli, he said, "a complaint of anti-party activities was given in February against them and they resigned in July. Their resignations were not in the prescribed format. I asked for it to be resubmitted.

"They approached the Supreme Court and claimed that the speaker was not available. They falsely submitted sworn affidavit to SC. The MLAs were instructed to appear to me by the apex court. When they met me, I asked them about when they sought my time upon which, they admitted that they did not."

Elaborating his decision taken regarding MLA R Shankar, the Speaker said, "Shankar had in June this year merged his KPJP party with Congress. On June 20, I had notified that he be considered as Congress MLA. On July 8 he gave his resignation after which he wrote to me and the governor that he will support BJP unequivocally. CLP leader Siddaramaiah had filed a complaint against him and he is being disqualified. R Shankar is disqualified up to May 2023, till the end of 15th State Legislative Assembly."

Replying to a spate of questions, he said the case of the other rebel MLAs fell into a different category and he would go through them in detail and give a decision in a couple of days. "I know the decisions will be challenged and so I will be correct in my decisions."

He said he was neither guided by any party interests nor was he partisan. Since the Supreme Court respected his authority and wanted his decisions to be put up before it, he was making the decisions after a lot of deliberations.

Justifying his action, the speaker also said that he was setting a precedent to uphold the basic tenants of democracy. He pointed to a number of inconsistencies in the statements made by the MLAs to him and to the Supreme Court in sworn affidavits.

"Once the voter casts his votes, MLAs can't change their minds as per their whims and fancies, shouldn't the voter have a say? I am setting precedence here. They seize to be a member till 2023 and cannot contest further elections", Kumar said.

He also stated that the rebel MLAs were reported to be staying at a resort in Lonavala, near Pune.

The Congress-JD(S) coalition government fell on Tuesday as it lost the trust vote in the Assembly. Following the defeat, Kumaraswamy submitted his resignation to Governor Vajubhai Vala at Raj Bhavan, along with his cabinet ministers.

The defeat marked the end of an uneasy coalition that was formed after the assembly polls on May 23, 2018, which returned a hung verdict after three main parties in the state- Congress, BJP and the JD (S) contested against each other in the polls.

Replying to a question, he said he was constitutionally bound to cooperate with the new government that may be formed in the state.
He also said the new government would have to get the Finance Bill passed.