Disqualification order vitiated: rebel BJP MLAs tell K'taka HC
Eleven rebel BJP MLAs on Wednesday told the Karnataka High Court that the Speaker's order disqualifying them was "vitiated" and "perverse" and their action did not attract relevant provisions of the anti- defection law.
In their contention before a new single judge bench, which adjourned the hearing till Thursday, the MLAs said Speaker K G Bopaiah's action was based on "conjectures and surmises" rather than any "cogent and clinching material".
The rebels, whose withdrawal of support to the BJP's first-ever government in the south pushed it into a crisis, said their action did not attract the provisions of para 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution that deals with disqualification of members of a legislature.
Asserting that the Speaker's order was not based on any circumstantial evidence which was "clinching and cogent", they told the court, "The Speaker has relied not on material on record but on surmises and conjectures".
"It does not make out a case for disqualification. The Speaker should have ascertained the material on record first. What is required is proof beyond reasonable doubt, not mere preponderance," senior counsel B V Acharya, appearing for two of the BJP MLAs, submitted.
"They (the 11 MLAs) have never told the governor (H R Bhardwaj) that they supported any other government or any political party."
The counsel for the 11 BJP MLAs made the submission when their petitions came up for hearing before a single judge, Justice V G Sabhahith, to whom the case was referred after a split verdict by a division bench, comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N Kumar on Monday.
Khehar had upheld the Speaker's order disqualifying the 11 MLAs while Justice Kumar set it aside. Justice Sabhahith, who heard the case on Wednesday, adjourned further hearing for Thursday.
Counsel K G Raghavan, appearing for one of the rebel MLAs, submitted they had only expressed dissent which is ingrained in the Tenth schedule of the Constitution.
Referring to the BJP MLAs' October 6 letter to the governor withdrawing support to the B S Yeddyurappa government, the counsel said, "It is an honest expression of an anguish in a manner known to law and the contention of the Speaker that this has a reference to Article 356 of the Constitution has no substance."
All that the 11 BJP MLAs have said was that they don't want a government headed by the "corrupt" chief minister. Their contention was that they are ready to support any BJP government...any leader other than Yeddyurappa.
"There is not even a remote suggestion that we do not want a BJP government".