The disqualified MLAs from Karnataka are hanging by a thread as a Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana, on Monday adjourned the hearing of an interim relief plea for Wednesday, September 25.
The disqualified MLAs sought a favourable verdict from the SC as by-polls will be held in 15 Assembly seats in Karnataka in October. The constituencies going to the polls are Gokak, Athani, Ranebennur, Kagwad, Hirekerur, Yellapur, Yeshwanthpura, Vijayanagara, Shivajinagar, Hosakote, Hunsur, Krishnarajpet, Mahalakshmi Layout, KR Pura and Chikballapura.
Out of the 17 disqualified legislators, three cannot contest in the elections for the remaining term of the current Assembly, which will end in 2023.
Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing the disqualified MLAs, sought a stay on the by-polls. While the by-polls are scheduled to be held on October 21, the last date for filing nominations is September 30. The last date for completing the elections is October 27.
Rohatgi argued that if the by-polls are not stayed, the SC should allow the disqualified legislators to contest in the elections as they are still entitled to it under the provisions of the Constitution.
Election Commission's view
The Election Commission of India (ECI) told the apex court that the disqualified MLAs cannot be deprived of their right to contest in the by-polls in the state. The counsel representing ECI also said that the SC should not stay the elections as by-polls for 15 vacant Assembly seats have been notified.
The former Speaker of Karnataka, KR Ramesh Kumar, had disqualified the rebel MLAs on charges of defection earlier this year. The future of the legislators and ruling BJP government depend on the SC verdict as the rebels had challenged the Speaker's action.
The disqualified MLAs have played a major role in the formation of the BJP government in the state, as their resignation in July resulted in the collapse of the Congress-JD(S) coalition.