Holding the disqualification of 16 Karnataka assembly members as mala fide, the Supreme Court Wednesday said that the speaker acted in haste to ensure that then chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa did not lose a trust vote.
Therefore, we hold that the impugned order of the speaker is vitiated by mala fides,” said an apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph.
Justice Kabir said: Unless it was to ensure that the trust vote did not go against the chief minister, there was hardly any reason for the speaker to have taken up the disqualification applications in such a great haste.
The court said this in a detailed judgment in pursuance of its May 13, 2011 order restoring the assembly membership of 16 disqualified Karnataka legislators who faced action on the eve of the trust vote.
The legislators were disqualified by Speaker K.G. Bopaiah Oct 10, 2010, a day before the trial of strength of the government Oct 11.
The disqualification of the 11 Bharatiya Janata Party lawmakers and five independent legislators was upheld by the Karnataka High Court Feb 14, 2011.
The disqualified BJP legislators were Balachandra Jarkiholi, Belur Gopalakrishna, Anand Asnotikar, Sarvabowma Bagali, V. Nagaraju, Raje Kage, Y. Sampangi, Nanjundaswamy, S.K. Bellubbi, H.S. Shankara Lingegowda and Shivanagouda Naik.
The five disqualified independents were Gulihatti Shekar, D. Sudhakar, P.M. Narendra Swamy, Venkataramanappa and Shivaraj Tangadagi.
It is obvious from the procedure adopted by the speaker that he was trying to meet the time schedule set by the governor for the trial of strength in the assembly and to ensure that the appellants…stood disqualified prior to the date on which the floor test was to be held,” the judgment said.
The judges said that “Having concluded the hearing on Oct 10, 2010 by 5 p.m., the speaker passed detailed orders, in which various judgments, both of Indian courts and foreign courts, and principles of law from various authorities were referred to, on the same day, holding that the appellants and the other MLAs stood disqualified as members of the house.”
Pointed to the speed with which Speaker Bopaiah acted, the court said: “The vote of confidence took place on Oct 11,2010 in which the disqualified members could not participate, and in their absence B.S. Yeddyurappa was able to prove his majority in the house.”
The judgment noted that this happened “despite the view expressed by him (speaker) that upon submitting the letter withdrawing support to the BJP government led by Yeddyurappa, all the MLAs stood immediately disqualified”.
Holding speakers action as mala fide, the court set it aside along with the verdict of the full bench of the High Court.