The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Karnataka Speaker what stopped him from deciding on whether to accept or reject the resignations tendered by MLAs of the Congress-JD-S coalition on July 6.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi sought a clear response from senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar.
"You were silent on the resignations till the MLAs came to the Supreme Court... Why?" Chief Justice Gogoi asked.
Singhvi replied that the Speaker filed an affidavit in the apex court explaining what had happened.
The CJI shot back asking why wasn't a decision taken when the MLAs went to the Speaker with their resignations, to which Singhvi replied that it was a written communication, and the Speaker was not available on that day.
"But the decision was communicated to him on July 6," the court added.
Singhvi argued that the first condition "of a genuine resignation tendered by an MLA is that he has to be personally present before the Speaker" and added that the MLAs first met the Speaker on July 11.
Reacting sharply to this line of argument, the court said that the provision did not negate resigning by letter, but if the MLA had made a personal visit to the Speaker then he was expected to decide on the resignation immediately. "Why didn't it happen on July 11?" the court further queried.
Asking if the Speaker was challenging the jurisdiction power of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice said: "For your benefit, the court had ordered a floor test (referring to the last year's floor test) and appointed a protem Speaker in a midnight hearing. The exercise of jurisdiction of our powers depend only on self-restraint," he added.
Singhvi said the Speaker was in no way questioning the court's jurisdiction and added: "Suppose a Speaker goes crazy, then Your Lordships can intervene."
Before Singhvi, rebel MLAs' counsel senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, argued before the court.
The Chief Justice asked Rohatgi: "We cannot say, in which way, the Speaker should decide resignation or disqualification of MLAs. We cannot fetter him. Although, the important question, is there any constitutional obligation for the Speaker to decide resignation before disqualification or to club his decision on both?"