May 06, 2021
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Karnataka Crisis

'Breakdown Of The Constitutional Mechanism'

'Governor is of the view that this is a matter on which the appropriate constitutional authorities have to take the decision on the recommendation of the Governor and it is not a matter that can be resolved on the streets'

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'Breakdown Of The Constitutional Mechanism'

Full text of the Karnataka Governor's press communiqué

There have been several misgivings created in the minds of the public about the nature and the rationale for submission of a special report by the Governor of Karnataka to the President of India on 15 May 2011. Therefore to remove the misgivings in the minds of the people and to take the citizens of Karnataka into confidence, H.E the Governor of Karnataka clarifies the following points.

First of all an impression is being created that despite the Government enjoying the support of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, Governor submitted the report for invoking the provisions of Article 356 (1) of the constitution on the grounds that the Government lost the majority. This is completely baseless.

The intervention under Article 356 (1) of the Constitution of India is not limited to a situation of Government losing its majority in the Assembly. The intervention is called for whenever there is breakdown of constitutional mechanism in the state. The breakdown of constitutional mechanism also can occur in several other ways.

However in the instant case, though the origins of the breakdown can be traced to the question of support enjoyed by the Government, the actual breakdown is due to tampering with the composition of the Legislative Assembly in unconstitutional manner.

The Supreme Court in S R Bommai vs Union of India (1994) 3 SCC held that "Proper course for testing the strength of the ministry is holding the test on the floor of the House. That alone is the Constitutionally ordained forum of seeking openly and objectively the claims and counter claims in that behalf."

On 6th October 2010, 18 MLAs who were earlier supporting the Chief Minister Shri B S Yeddyurappa, submitted individual letters to the Governor of Karnataka, withdrawing their support to the Government headed by Shri B S Yeddyurappa. The Governor of Karnataka advised the Chief Minister to establish on the floor of the House that he enjoys the support of the majority of the members of the House by 12th October 2010. The floor test was scheduled for 11.00 am on 11th October 2010.

The Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in collusion with the Chief Minister has distorted the character and composition of the Assembly for extraneous reasons on 10th October 2010, by disqualifying 16 members of the Assembly just hours before the crucial floor test scheduled for 11-10-2010.

Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in its judgment dated 13-5-2011 on these disqualifications held, amongst other things:

"Unless it was to ensure that the Trust Vote did not go against the Chief Minister, there was no conceivable reason for the Speaker to have taken up the Disqualification Application in such a great hurry."

"We are constrained to hold that the proceedings conducted by the Speaker on the Disqualification Application filed by Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa do not meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play. The Speaker, in our view, proceeded in the matter as if he was required to meet the deadline set by the Governor, irrespective of whether, in the process, he was ignoring the constitutional norms set out in the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution and the Disqualification Rules, 1986, and in contravention of the basic principles that go hand-in-hand with the concept of a fair hearing."

"Extraneous considerations are writ large on the face of the order of the Speaker and the same has to be set aside."

The above actions of distorting the character of the Assembly was resorted to by the Chief Minister and the Speaker, as noted by the Supreme Court of India in its Judgment, to enable the floor test to succeed. The sanctity of the floor test has been deliberately subverted thereby resulting in the breakdown of the constitutional mechanism, as the Legislative Assembly is a creation of the Constitution under Article 168 of the Constitution of India.

Though the Governor held the same view even on 11th October 2010, the issue of disqualification remained sub-judice till the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India delivered its judgment on 13 May 2011.

Therefore, after examining the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and its implications and the various other developments in the recent months, the Governor submitted a special report to H. E. the President of India on 15 May 2011, recommending invoking the provisions of Article 356(1) of the constitution of India.

Whenever such a situation arises, it is the constitutional responsibility of the Governor to submit the report on all such matters. Governor is of the view that this is a matter on which the appropriate constitutional authorities have to take the decision on the recommendation of the Governor and it is not a matter that can be resolved on the streets.

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