Karnataka Speaker puts off decision on MLA resignations, says will act as per Constitution

Speaker Ramesh Kumar said he will uphold the Constitution while taking a decision on the resignations

Karnataka Crisis: Speaker Ramesh Kumar says 'need to ascertain resignations to know they're genuine.'
BENGALURU/NEW DELHI: Karnataka assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar on Thursday received the resignations of rebel Congress and JDS MLAs after the Supreme Court requested him to meet the legislators, but deferred a decision on them.

Kumar met 10 MLAs of the dissident group in the evening and received the resignation letters given afresh by them in their own handwriting, but said he would take a decision only after following procedures laid down in the Constitution. This came as a disappointed for the rebel MLAs and rival BJP waiting for the HD Kumaraswamy government to bow out after losing majority.

The Speaker’s action to not immediately accept the resignations came as a big relief to the 13-monthold coalition regime, which has apparently been reduced to a minority following the resignations of 16 MLAs and two independents shifting their loyalties to BJP. The legislature session commencing on Friday is expected to be acrimonious, with BJP unlikely to allow the government to conduct business with a demand for its resignation.

The Speaker gave audience to the 10 MLAs in deference to an SC order. The SC on Thursday morning heard a petition of these MLAs and asked the Speaker to grant an audience to them by 6 pm, and decide on their resignations. “The petitioners, if they so wish and are so inclined, shall intimate the Speaker of the assembly their decision to resign, in which event, the Speaker shall take a decision forthwith and, in any case, in course of the remaining part of the day,” it said.

The Speaker, however, told the SC he cannot take a call on the resignations as sought and moved a petition seeking to recall the direction. He submitted that the court could not have passed any direction to him under Article 190 of the Constitution. A bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi refused to consider the Speaker’s plea immediately and said it would consider any related cases on Friday morning.

In Bengaluru, the Speaker addressed the media after meeting the rebel MLAs, and said he was sending the entire proceedings, including video footage, to the SC along with a request for clarifying what the apex court meant by “forthwith”.

Just before the deadline of 6 pm, the rebel MLAs arrived from Mumbai in two special aircraft and travelled from the airport to the Speaker’s office in “zero traffic” and under Z-Plus category security.

“In today’s political c i rcumstances, whether these resignations are natural and voluntary, I am not going to analyse. I leave it to people’s imagination. But I will decide on them only after following the formalities. Why should I speed up a decision? To please whom? For whose sake,” the Speaker asked at a press meet.

“I am delaying accepting MLA resignations because I love this land. Am not under anyone’s obligation,” he said. The Speaker mentioned about former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s initiatives to amend the Constitution to fight the menace of defection. “There is a feeling being created that I am deliberately holding up resignations. But I am under no one’s influence but obligated to the Constitution,” the Speaker said, adding would follow the procedure as laid down under Article 190 of the Constitution.
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