BJP, disqualified MLAs welcome EC informing SC on deferring bypolls


PTI, Sep 27, 2019, 10:00 AM IST

Bengaluru: With the Election Commission on Thursday informing the Supreme Court that it would defer the bypolls to 15 assembly segments in Karnataka till it decides the case of disqualified Congress-JD(S) legislators, the Congress and JD(S) have raised questions on the poll body’s conduct.

While disqualified MLAs termed it as a “relief”, the BJP termed it as “first victory” to disqualified MLAs who had sought a stay on the bypolls.

“Supreme Court has said it will decide on the 17 disqualified MLAs and have posted (hearing) on October 22. I’m surprised that opposition is expressing doubts and speaking lightly about the court decision. We will have to wait and see what SC decides,” Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said “It is relief to those (disqualified MLAs) who were anxious. What next is left to them. Today’s SC decision is historical, I welcome it along with others.”

On the other hand, JDS leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said: “.for the first time an advocate representing election commission has voluntarily stated (to the court) that they were ready to defer the election.

This decision of Election Commission, which is a constitutional body, has demoralised the system in the country.”

KPCC President Dinesh Gundu Rao tweeted that it looked as if the EC was taking instructions from someone.

“The election has been notified and filing of nomination has also begun, why are they now saying that they will postpone the by-elections. It looks like they are taking instructions from someone else,” he said in a tweet.

However, welcoming the court’s move to decide on the batch of petitions filed by disqualified MLAs, he said “The Supreme Court is going to look at the real intention of the anti-defection law and the orders of (the then) Speaker Ramesh Kumar.

If disqualified MLAs can contest bypolls, what’s the use of the law? Our case has only got strengthened.”

Later speaking to reporters, Rao said “the petition of the disqualified MLAs was that opportunity should be provided for them to contest in polls, Speaker’s verdict should be revoked…

Supreme Court has said nothing on any of these issues, so they are still disqualified and their situation remains the same.”

The Election Commission (EC) told the apex court on Thursday that it would defer the upcoming bypolls to 15 Assembly constituencies in Karnataka till top court finally decides the pleas filed by 17 disqualified MLAs of the state challenging their disqualification.

The EC submitted this after a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said it would be “better” if the pleas filed by these disqualified MLAs were decided finally as virtually two-third arguments in the matter were already over.

“Then I will ask the Election Commission to defer it (bypolls in Karnataka) for sometime,” senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the EC, told the bench.

The lawyers appearing for the disqualified MLAs, Congress leader Siddaramaiah and other respondents said, they had no objection if the bypolls were deferred.

The bench asked both the parties to complete the pleadings in the matter till October 15 and posted it for hearing on October 22. Reacting to the development, a disqualified MLA Ramesh

Jarkiholi expressed hope that they will get “100 per cent justice.”

Another disqualified MLA B C Patil said it was a welcome move because after the bypoll if the disqualification was revoked, then it would lead to a situation where one constituency would have had two MLAs, which would have gone against the constitution.

“We are confident we will get justice,” RR Nagar disqualified MLA Munirathna said, as he accused the then Speaker Ramesh Kumar of intentionally disqualifying them and being partisan in favour Congress.

Welcoming the development, BJP leader and Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj KS Eshwarappa tweeted this would give time for the court to examine the case in detail and give its verdict.

“It is the first victory to disqualified MLAs who had sought stay on bypolls,” he said.

The Election Commission last week had announced that by-elections to constituencies represented by 15 out of 17 disqualified former Congress-JD(S) legislators will be held on October 21 and results declared on October 24.

Among the 15 constituencies going to the polls, 12 were represented by Congress and 3 by JD(S). Absence and resignation of 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs during the trust vote had led to the collapse of the HD Kumaraswamy headed coalition government in July, and helped BJP come to power.

After examining the petition moved by leadership of both parties, the then Assembly Speaker Ramesh Kumar had disqualified 17 Congress and JD(S) MLAs under the anti-defection law, which they have challenged in the Supreme Court.

Kumar had ruled that those disqualified cease to be MLAs with immediate effect till the expiry of the 15th assembly (in 2023).

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