Terrible judicial precedent: Congress on SC order on rebel K’taka MLAs

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The Congress on Wednesday said the Supreme Court order on Karnataka rebel MLAs, absolving them of the obligation to attend Thursday’s floor test, sets ‘terrible judicial precedent’.

“SC’s order nullifying the Whip and by extension, operation of Constitution’s Xth Schedule to punish MLA’s betraying the public mandate, sets a terrible judicial precedent! Blanket protection to MLA’s, who are driven not by ideology but by far baser concerns, is unheard-of,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted hours after the top court said that the MLAs could not be compelled to attend the Karnataka assembly session where the HD Kumaraswamy-led government is scheduled to face floor trust.

The Congress leader also raised two points in the follow up tweet asking: ”Does this mean Court can interfere with the working of the State Legislature by deciding when a Whip will be enforced.” In the second poser, Congress’s Communication in-charge asked: “Does this mean abandonment of the ‘Basic Structure’ doctrine of Separation of Powers?”

In a slightly contradictory take on the top court ruling, Congress’s Karnatak leader DK Shivakumar said the court ruling had given strength to democracy. “This landmark judgment has given strength to democratic process. Some BJP friends are trying to misguide that whip is not valid but the party can issue a whip & take necessary action as per anti-defection law.”

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It remains to be seen if the Congress will issue a whip for tomorrow’s floor test faced by the Congress, JDS government. The Supreme Court ruling said while no time frame can be set for the Speaker to take a decision on the resignations of Karnataka rebel MLAs, the lawmakers also could not be forced to attend the trust vote.

The state plunged into political turmoil when 16 MLAs — 13 from the Congress and three from JD(S) —quit since July 7, pushing the Congress-JD(S) coalition government to the brink of collapse.

With high drama being played out in Bengaluru and Mumbai, where the rebel MLAs are holed up in a luxury hotel, the Speaker holds the key. The confrontation reached the top court when the MLAs sought directions to Speaker for acceptance of their resignation and the Speaker sought time to arrive at a decision.

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The court called its Wednesday ruling an attempt to maintain ‘constitutional balance’.

If the resignations are accepted, the 15-month-old coalition would be reduced to a minority in the assembly and leave it poised on the brink of collapse in the climax of a crisis that began on July 6.

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