New Delhi: The Supreme Court today will resume hearing a petition challenging Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s invitation to BJP’s B S Yeddyurappa to become Chief Minister of the state.
The Governor’s invite, which led to Yeddyurappa taking charge as the Chief Minister, has sparked a major political row and fears of defection.
Hours before the Supreme Court’s takes up the case which the three-bench judge first heard at an all-night hearing on Thursday, the Congress-JD(S) combine has moved out their MLAs into neighbouring Telangana to ensure that there is no “poaching” and the flock of its 117 lawmakers stays intact. According to sources, Congress has sought President’s appointment over the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka. The main concern for Yeddyurappa and BJP will be the Supreme Court’s order which said that the former swearing-in was subject to the outcome of today’s hearing. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets H D Deve Gowda on his birthday.
Spoke to our former Prime Minister Shri HD Deve Gowda Ji and conveyed birthday wishes to him. I pray for his good health and long life.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 18, 2018
Here are the developments to the story:
After over three hour midnight hearing, the Supreme Court declined to stop B S Yeddyurappa from swearing in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka on Thursday but it made it clear that his survival in the post would depend on the court’s final verdict.
It is likely that the Supreme Court may cut down 15-day time-limit given to Yeddyurappa by the Governor to prove the majority.
The three-judge bench of the apex court will also examine a fresh application by the Congress-JD(S) combine challenging the Governor’s decision to nominate an Anglo-Indian MLA to assembly till the floor test is conducted.
The Congress-JD(S) combine that called the Karnataka governor’s invite “an encounter of the constitution”, had in plea told the Supreme Court that the BJP couldn’t claim to have majority unless it triggers defections.
After the results were declared on Tuesday, BJP turned out to be the single largest party in the state with 105 lawmakers, including an Independent MLA, but is clearly short of majority of 112. The Congress, which got 78 seats, has formed an alliance with the Janata Dal Secular and together they have 117 seats.
After the results in Karnataka, Yeddyurappa’s BJP has moved the Governor and insisted that it should have the first shot at power by virtue of being the single largest party in the recently concluded Karnataka Assembly elections. On the other hand, the Congress insisted that it wasn’t correct as the party and its alliance JD(S) has the majority votes.
Lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the Supreme Court, the only way that the Yeddyurappa government could also cross the half-way mark was by horse-trading. Singhvi, who was representing the alliance in the court hearing, called the Karnataka Governor’s decision to give Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority when he asked for only 7, “the biggest license to poaching (legislators)”.
The bench comprising of three judges – Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan – also brushed aside the argument by the Centre’s top law officer K K Venugopal that the anti-defection law kicks in only after a legislator takes oath of office. This is preposterous, the bench shot back. The anti-defection law bans MLAs from switching political parties.
After over three hours mid-night hearing, the Supreme Court had put off the hearing on Thursday by a day because the Congress could not produce the letters submitted by Yeddyurappa to Karnataka Governor which had convinced him to invite the BJP, and not the Congress-JDS combine. To a suggestion that former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi be asked to get it, Rohatgi had declined, asserting that he was not representing Yeddyurappa but two BJP MLAs. The apex court later ordered the Centre and Yeddyurappa to come with the letter at Friday’s hearing.
The Supreme Court will take up for scrutiny on Friday the two letters written by B S Yeddyurappa to the Karnataka Governor on May 15 and 16 staking his claim to forming the government.
On Thursday, senior lawyer and former law minister Ram Jethmalani made a “mention” before Chief Justice Dipak Misra for listing a petition filed by him in his personal capacity questioning the decision of the Governor to invite Yeddyurappa to form the government. He said this would result in horse-trading and corruption.
The Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Thursday said that Yeddyurappa may prove to be “Ek din ka chief minister,” (Chief Minister for just a day).
Congress and JD(S) meanwhile, are shifting their MLAs out of Karnataka to Telangana over fears of poaching.