SC Verdict: Karnataka MLA Disqualification case

The Supreme Court on November 13, 2019, pronounced its judgement on the legality of disqualification of 15 dissident MLAs by the then Karnataka Assembly Speaker under Anti-Defection law

Verdict

The Apex Court upheld the disqualification of the MLAs by the speaker. The Court clarified that the disqualification is till their re-election and not till the end of the term of the house as ruled by the speaker.

The speaker had ruled that the MLAs cannot contest in further elections including the by polls to be held in December, 2019 and till the end of the tenure of the 15th Karnataka Assembly

Article 190

It explains the vacation of seats by the members of Houses of legislature of state. The article gives the power for the MLA to resign addressing the speaker. However, the article also gives power to the speaker the power to reject the resignation

Anti-Defection Law

The tenth schedule of the Constitution lays down the process by which legislators can be disqualified on grounds of defection by the presiding officer of the legislature. A MLA is deemed to have been defected

  • if he voluntarily gives up his membership of the party
  • If he disobeys party leadership on a vote

Background – The Politics

In 2018, in the assembly elections of the 224 seats, BJP won 104, INC won 80 and JD won 37. The Janata Dal-Indian National Congress coalition formed the government after 2018 elections. In July 2019, after BJP swept the parliamentary elections (coalition hardly won only 2 seats), 17 MLAs of the coalition submitted resignations to the speaker. Following this the then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy resigned losing trust vote and B S Yediyurappa was sworn in as the CM, as after resignation, BJP became the single largest party.

The MLAs were disqualified by the speaker to contest elections based on anti-defection law. In July a petition was filed by MLAs challenging their disqualification by the then speaker of the Karnataka Assembly.

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