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Can’t take call on rebel MLAs’ resignations today, Karnataka Speaker tells SC; hearing tomorrow

Earlier, the court had asked 10 rebel MLAs to appear before the Speaker at 6 pm today and also directed the Speaker to take a decision on the resignations by the end of the day.

SNS | New Delhi |

Hours after the Supreme Court asked Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar to decide on the resignation letters by rebel MLAs by the end of the day, the Speaker said that he might be able to meet the lawmakers as per the court order but may not be able to spell out his decision today.

The Speaker contended that such a direction cannot be issued by the top court and sought an urgent hearing on his application.

The Speaker argued that his constitutional duties and Assembly rules mandated him to verify whether the resignations tendered by the MLAs were voluntary or forced.

Therefore, to determine this, an inquiry cannot be completed within the stipulated time-frame set by the top court in its order, he told the apex court.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi refused urgent hearing on the matter but allowed the Speaker’s application to be filed and indicated that the matter will be taken up for hearing along with the petition of 10 rebel MLAs on Friday morning.

Speaker’s counsel senior advocate AM Singhvi and Devadatt Kamat contended before the court that the Speaker was constitutionally bound to first take up the disqualification proceedings first.

The bench led by the Chief Justice replied it had already passed the order in the morning. “It is for the Speaker to decide on the nature of course of action… We will hear you tomorrow.”

Amidst heightened crisis in the Karnataka coalition government, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked 10 rebel Congress and JDS MLAs to “meet the state Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar at 6 pm today and submit their resignations if they wish to do so”.

Read | Karnataka crisis: SC asks 10 rebel MLAs to meet Speaker at 6 pm today, orders police cover

The Supreme Court had further asked the Karnataka Speaker to take a decision on the matter in the remaining part the day itself.

Earlier on Wednesday, the rebel lawmakers moved the Supreme Court accusing the Speaker of abandoning his constitutional duty and deliberately delaying acceptance of their resignations.

This came a day after Speaker Ramesh Kumar dismissed resignations of eight of the 13 lawmakers as “faulty”.

He said the resignations were not done in the correct format as per the guidelines of the Karnataka Assembly Act. He further gave two days time for the remaining five MLAs to meet him. He said he will meet two of the members on July 12 after the Assembly session and the remaining three after July 15.

The 13-month-old coalition government is trying to save its face desperately after a total of 18 MLAs resigned from the ruling alliance – 13 from Congress and three from JD (S) by Saturday and two more, including one Independent on Monday.