The Karnataka Assembly Speaker "flouted the Constitution" by disregarding the message from the Governor to conduct the floor test on Friday, a Constitution expert said amid the ongoing political drama in the southern state in the wake of a series of resignations by MLAs of the ruling Congress and JD (S).
Former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap said Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar was bound to respect the message of the Governor as per the Constitution.
Governor Vajubhai Vala had sent three messages to the Speaker, asking him to complete the confidence motion moved by the Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy by 6 p.m. on Friday, but it did not happen. The debate on the motion, which began on Thursday, remains incomplete on Friday and is slated to continue on Monday.
"The Governor has performed his duty under Article 175. The House must respect his message and conduct a floor test, rather than delaying it," Kashyap told IANS on Saturday.
Explaining the Governor's role, Kashyap says the Governor administers an oath to the Council of Ministers. "If his message is not respected, then the Constitution is blatantly flouted," he said. If voting on the trust vote is not conducted as per the Governor's message, then he is authorized to communicate his opinion to the Centre, for example, if he believes the current government is in a minority. As per the Constitution, the Governor cannot allow a minority government to function.
Article 175 of the Constitution extensively deals with rights of the Governor to address and send messages to the House. "The Governor may send messages to the House or Houses of the Legislature of the State, whether with respect to a Bill pending in the Legislature or otherwise, and a House to which any message is so sent shall with all convenient dispatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration", says the Constitution.
Article 175 also says the members of the House have to show respect to the Governor. "The Governor may address the Legislative Assembly or, in the case of a State having a Legislative Council, either House of the Legislature of the State, or both Houses assembled together, and may for that purpose require the attendance of members", says the Constitution.
The Congress and JD (S), in identical pleas, moved the Supreme Court challenging its July 17 order, which ruled the 15 rebel MLAs cannot be compelled to participate in the House proceedings. The parties contended that this order curtailed the rights of political party guaranteed under the Constitution. Though the parties referred to it as an urgent matter, they did not press for an early hearing on Friday.
Kashyap opined the Supreme Court did not curtail the rights of a political party in issuing the whip. "If you compel somebody, then it is an infringement of his/her fundamental right. The Supreme Court has safeguarded the rights of the MLAs guaranteed by the Constitution. In fact, the parties have already issued the whip", said Kashyap.