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The Supreme Court will pronounce its order Wednesday morning on the pleas of 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs seeking direction for Karnataka Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to accept their resignations from the Assembly.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi concluded the hearings of the rebel MLAs, the Speaker and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.
Summing up the arguments, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the 15 rebel MLAs, asked the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, to continue with its interim order directing the Speaker to maintain status quo on the issue of resignations and disqualification of the MLAs.
The counsel for the rebel MLAs also asked the bench that if the House assembles for business, the 15 rebel MLAs be exempted from appearing on the basis of the whip of the ruling coalition which, he said, has been reduced to a minority government.
Earlier, K R Ramesh Kumar, the Karnataka Assembly Speaker, said in the Supreme Court that he will decide on the disqualification and resignation of rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs by Wednesday and requested CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led bench to modify its earlier order.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Kumar, submitted before the court that nobody was saying that Speakers are not fallible but he cannot be asked to decide the matter in a time-bound manner.
"How can the Speaker be directed to decide in a particular manner?" Singhvi asked the court.
"Such orders are not passed even to a trial court," he said.
Singhvi added that a valid resignation should be submitted to the Speaker personally, and the MLAs appeared before him only on July 11, five days after submitting resignations to his office.
The rebel MLAs told the court that Speaker Kumar kept their resignations pending just to disqualify them, and there was nothing wrong in resigning to escape disqualification.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, said the Speaker can be directed to decide on the resignation of the MLAs by 2 PM and he can take a call on their disqualification later.
The bench asked Rohatgi if there was any constitutional obligation on the Speaker to decide disqualification which was initiated after the resignation. Rohatgi said that the rules say to "decide now" on resignation. "How can the Speaker keep it pending?" he asked.
The rebel MLAs told the court that the state government has been reduced to a minority, and the Speaker, by not accepting their resignations, has attempted to coerce them into voting for the government in the trust vote.
Disqualification proceedings are mini-trial under the Constitution's 10th Schedule, Rohatgi said, adding that resignation is different and its acceptance is based on single criterion -- it is voluntary or not.
There is nothing to show the rebel MLAs conspired with BJP, the senior advocate said.
The disqualification proceedings were nothing but to scuttle resignation of MLAs, he said.
He also told the court that the disqualification proceedings were initiated for not being a disciplined soldier of the party and for not attending meetings outside the House.
The bench further asked if all the disqualification pleas are on same grounds, to which Rohatgi replied "more or less same".
He had also told the court that the Speaker has to only see if the resignations were voluntary or not.
"Resignation has to be accepted, there is no other way to deal with it," Rohatgi told the court.
"It is my fundamental right to do whatever I want to do and cannot be bound due to non-acceptance of resignation by speaker," submitted Rohatgi.
There is a vote of confidence in assembly and the rebel MLAs may be forced to follow whip despite resigning, he said.
(With PTI Inputs)
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