Supreme Court orders live telecast of floor test at K’taka Assembly

The Supreme Court today ordered live telecast of the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly where Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has to prove his majority.

The floor test is scheduled for 4 pm.

“Live broadcast of floor test will be the best possible way to ensure transparency in the proceedings,” a bench comprising justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan said.

The bench also made it clear that no other item in the agenda shall be taken up during the trust vote.

The bench said secretary of the Legislative Assembly will record the proceedings of the House.

It said that several local channels will be provided the live feed of the proceedings so that they can also be in a position to telecast simultaneously.

The bench termed as “fair” the suggestion of Karnataka governor’s counsel that the floor test be telecast live.

The bench passed the order after recording the statement of Ad

ditional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Karnataka government and Governor Vajubhai Vala.

After the ASG’s statement, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Congress-JD(S) combine, which had last night filed a petition challenging the appointment of BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as pro tem speaker by the governor for conducting the floor test, did not press for the prayers.

In the order, the bench said, “Though a number of prayers have been made in the application, it was not necessary to go into all the prayers in view of the statement made by Mehta that there will be live telecast of the proceedings.

“We may place on record that statement of Mehta is that there would be live telecast of the proceedings of the legislative assembly in respect of the floor test,” the order said.

During the hearing, which commenced at 10:30 am, the bench termed as “fair” suggestion of the Karnataka governor’s counsel that floor test be telecast live.

Opening the arguments, Sibal said as per convention the senior-most MLA should be appointed pro tem speaker.

He said the governor has very limited discretionary power in appointing pro tem speaker and “we would have no objection if pro tem speaker only had to administer oath to the MLAs, the problem is here he is also holding the floor test”.

The senior lawyer said appointing the senior-most lawmaker as pro tem speaker has been a practice in place in commonwealth countries.

However, the bench shot back “there have been earlier instances where senior-most MLA has not been appointed as pro tem speaker”.

“If you (Sibal) are casting aspersions on the pro tem speaker then we will have to issue notice to him and postpone the floor test,” the bench said during the hearing and added “How can we direct governor to appoint pro tem speaker.

Supreme Court refuses to stay Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in : Karnataka tussle

The Supreme Court today refused to stay BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in as Karnataka Chief Minister after a rare pre-dawn hearing which saw the Congress-JD (S) combine making a last-ditch attempt to stall the saffron party’s surge in the southern state.

The apex court, which commenced the hearing at 2.11 AM and ended at 5.28 AM, however made it clear that the swearing-in and the government formation in the state would be subject to the final outcome of the case before it.

A special bench comprising Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan directed the Centre to place before it two communications, sent by Yeddyurappa to Governor Vajubhai Vala in which he had staked claim to form the government, saying their perusal was necessary to decide the case.

The top court also issued notices to Karnataka government and Yeddyurappa seeking their replies on the plea filed by Congress-JD (S) combine and posted the matter for hearing tomorrow.

“This Court is not passing any order staying the oath taking ceremony of B S Yeddyurappa. In case, he is given oath in the meantime, that shall be subject to further orders of this court and final outcome of the writ petition,” the bench said.

While senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Congress-JD (S) combine, persisted with his arguments that the swearing-in ceremony should be stayed or deferred, the bench said, “we are not staying the oath taking ceremony”.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing three BJP MLAs Govind M Karjol, C M Udasi and Basavaraj Bommai, opposed the arguments to defer or stay the swearing-in ceremony, which was scheduled yesterday for today morning.

“We do not know what transpired in the meeting between the BJP leader (Yeddyurappa) and the Governor. I do not think B S Yeddyurappa is served or represented here. The whole thing is in a grey area and in a realm of speculation,” Venugopal said.

Rohatgi also questioned the manner in which the petition was filed in the midnight and said, “Heavens will not fall if somebody is sworn-in. This is not a matter of life or death or as if someone is going to be hanged”.

He said that constitutional obligation of the Governor was to invite a party to form a new government and his action could always be judicially reviewed and the court may order for restoration of status-quo ante also as was done in the case of Arunachal Pradesh.

“Courts should not stop a constitutional functionary (Governor) from discharging his constitutional duty. In this country, action will be amenable but office of the Governor cannot be injuncted,” Rohatgi said.

At the outset, Singhvi referred to the number of seats won by the BJP, Congress and JD (S) and said the Congress-JD (S) combine has the majority in the house with 117 MLAs while the BJP had only 104 seats which was below the majority mark of 112 at present.

He also questioned the Governor’s decision to give 15 days time to Yeddyurppa to prove majority in the house and claimed that this might lead to “horse trading” and “poaching” of MLAs.

Singhvi said that they were not sure how much time Yeddyurppa himself had sought from the Governor to prove the majority but as per their information, the BJP leader had sought seven days time.

He urged the court to defer the swearing-in, scheduled to be held at 9.30 AM today, till 4.30 PM and said the Centre or BJP should be asked to place before the bench the letters sent by Yeddyurppa to the Governor.

However, the Attorney General told the bench, “We really do not know what was the basis of which the Governor invited him (Yeddyurppa)”.

He said that swearing-in should not be deferred or stayed as it was for a constitutional office and no purpose would be served by stopping it since it was “purely a reversable situation”.

“Let this matter be heard. Let floor test take place. No irreversible damage will be done,” Venugopal said.

“Here, there are three major parties. BJP is the single largest party, Congress is second and JD (S) is third. Now, the Congress-JD (S) combine outweigh the BJP. Then, in this situation, on what basis he (Yeddyurppa) has staked claim to form the government? We do not have those letters. It’s only on surmises. The arithmetic is such that defies on what basis it was done,” the bench observed.

To this, Venugopal raised a doubt on the authenticity of the signatures of MLAs submitted by Congress-JD (S) combine leader H D Kumaraswamy and said, “They may have given signed letter which may not be genuine”.

Singhvi, while contending that “humongous things are happening in terms of money”, expressed gratitude that three judges of the apex court were hearing the matter at 2 AM.

“If a Governor passes an order (inviting Yeddyurppa to form government) at 9.30 PM and the oath taking ceremony is at 9.30 AM, I have no option but to make your night black. I am extremely grateful that three judges of the Supreme Court are sitting in the court at 2 AM to hear the matter. It is a victory of democracy irrespective of what is the outcome. The democracy has won,” he told the bench.

In the May 12 polls, BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 members, while Congress secured 78, the JD(S) 37 and others three.

 

Supreme Court on Karnataka tussle: Trend of past judgments not to restrain Guv

With the Karnataka power tussle turning into a midnight courtroom battle, the Supreme Court said the general trend of its past judgments was not to restrain the governor, as it heard a plea by the Congress-JD(S) combine against the governor’s decision to invite BJP’s B S Yeddyurappa to form the government.

The apex court also asked can it restrain the governor from inviting a party to form the government, to which senior lawyer and Congress leader A M Singhvi said the Supreme Court had done so in the past.

The court said was it not a convention that the single largest party gets invited by governor to form government and prove majority.

The three-judge bench, comprising justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, said they are wondering whether the Supreme Court can restrain the governor that might lead to constitutional vacuum in the state.

The court also observed that the general trend of its past judgements was not to issue injunction or restrain the governor.

With Singhvi arguing that the Constitution gives immunity to governor only for discharge of duties, the bench asked whether he wanted the court to scrutinise discretion of the governor when it does not have the letter given to Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala that was the basis for inviting the BJP to form the government.

Arguing on behalf of the Congress and JD(S), Singhvi told the bench, constituted by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to hear the matter, that the governor has negated democracy by not calling the alliance commanding majority in Karnataka.

“It is the biggest license to poaching if the governor gives 15 days to BJP to prove majority as in earlier such cases 48 hours were given by SC,” Singhvi said.

He said the BJP has 104 MLAs and Governor invited B S Yeddyurappa to form govt in “unconstitutional manner”, even as JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy along with the Congress has 116 MLAs supporting him.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing BJP and B S Yeddyurappa, said no injunction can be issued to the governor.

The bench commenced hearing on the matter at 2:11 AM. Attorney General K K Venugopal and ASG Maninder Singh were also in court on behalf of the Centre.

Hours after the Congress-JD(S) appraoched the CJI for an urgent hearing, the Supreme Court decided to hear the late night petition filed by the Congress and the JD(S) challenging Governor Vala’s decision to invite the BJP to form the government in the southern state.

The joint petition by the KPCC president G Parameshwara and H D Kumaraswamy sought a stay on the oath-taking ceremony, as communicated by the governor to the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa.

In its midnight legal push, the Congress and JD (S) approached the Supreme Court seeking an immediate intervention by the chief justice to stay the move, which it termed as an “encounter of the Constitution”.

The Congress urged Chief Justice Misra to hold an urgent hearing tonight itself since Yeddyurappa is slated to take oath as chief minister at 9 am tomorrow.

Singhvi said the party sought hearing on its petition challenging the governor’s decision tonight itself.

The Congress termed the governor’s decision as “murder of democracy and trampling of Constitution”.

Earlier in the evening, Vala invited Yeddyurappa to form the government and take oath as chief minister tomorrow. He also asked Yeddyurappa to seek a vote of confidence within 15 days of assuming office.

Singhvi, who has been assigned the task to lead Congress’ legal challenge against Vala’s decision, had met the Supreme Court registrar to take forward the process to hear the “urgent petition”.

The Congress has termed the move to form a BJP government in Karnataka as “illegal and against the law and Constitution.”

The petition prepared by advocate Dev Dutt Kamath contended that despite presenting the list of 116 MLAs, governor Vala has invited the BJP which has 104 MLAs to form the government and has given relatively longer time of 15 days to prove the majority on the floor of the House.

Kamath and other advocates earlier met the registrar for putting the petition before CJI Misra for constituting the bench.

The Congress has also said that granting 15 days’ time to Yeddyurappa to prove majority on the floor of the House will promote horse trading, alleging that BJP will resort to poaching of MLAs of Congress and JD(S).

The BJP has emerged as the single largest party in the southern state winning 104 seats, but is short of a simple majority.

On the other hand, the Congress and JD(S), which have already announced post-poll tie-up, have won 78 and 37 seats respectively and claimed before Vala to have numbers to form government in the state.

Yeddyurappa moves HC seeking quashing of ACB case against him

Yeddyurappa moves HC seeking quashing of ACB case against him
Yeddyurappa moves HC seeking quashing of ACB case against him

Former Karnataka chief minister and state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa has moved the high court, seeking quashing of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) proceedings against him in connection with an alleged illegal land denotification.

He filed the petition in the Karnataka High Court yesterday after the ACB had summoned him to appear before it.

Yeddyurappa has been accused of de-notifying 257 acres of land from a preliminary notification of 3,546 acres, meant for the formation of the Dr K Shivaram Karanth Layout, “bypassing” the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) committee’s approval, when he was the chief minister between May, 2008 and July, 2011.

Two FIRs had been filed against the BJP leader, based on a complaint by a member of the ‘Jana Samanya Vedike’, a social organisation.

In his petition, Yeddyurappa alleged that the ACB was being used to target the opposition leaders in the state, “in retaliation” to the recent Income Tax raids on Karnataka Energy Minister D K Shivakumar’s properties.

He also charged that the FIRs against him were a result of “political vendetta and mala fide intentions”.

The former chief minister contended that there was no question of any denotification of land by him since the entire land acquisition was quashed by the high court in 2014.

Yeddyurappa, who was asked to appear before the ACB yesterday, has sought 10 days’ time, saying he needed to gather all the facts related to the matter.

Pointing out that there was a gap of only two days between the date of issuing the summons and the date of appearance, Yeddyurappa said upon his request, he was given the copies of the complaint and the FIR, along with the preliminary inquiry report, only on August 18.

( Source – PTI )

SC refuses to cancel Yeddyurappa’s anticipatory bail

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to cancel the anticipatory bail granted to former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa by the state High Court in a corruption case relating to a mining lease.

A bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Ibrahim Kalifulla dismissed the appeal filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) challenging the anticipatory bail granted by the High Court.

“You want this man to be inside? What for?” the bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Mohan Parasaran appearing for the investigating agency.

The Supreme Court brushed aside Mr. Parasaran’s plea that Mr. Yeddyurappa’s bail should be cancelled as he was “not cooperating” with the CBI in the investigations.

“If he is not cooperating then go and seek cancellation of his bail,” the bench told the ASG.

The court also said that it cannot interfere lightly with the grant of anticipatory bail as the same can be done only on the gravity of the case and the possibility of the accused jumping the bail.

Mr. Parasaran submitted that the findings of the High Court, while granting anticipatory bail to Mr. Yeddyurappa, were not correct as it prima facie gave an impression that the charges against him were baseless and that there was no linkage between the alleged fraudulent transactions relating to grant of lease and funds transferred to him and his family’s account while he was the Chief Minister.

“Even if we will assume there is a linkage you go and investigate, prosecute him, file a charge sheet and submit an application for a recall of the bail,” the bench said.

However, the Supreme Court said the investigating agency shall not be influenced in its probe in any manner by the observations made by the state High Court.

Source: PTI

Yeddyurappa’s bail plea hearing adjourned to tomorrow

Karnataka Lokayukta Special Court today adjourned till tomorrow the hearing on bail applications of Former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and others alleging irregularities in denotification of government land.

 

Judge N K Sudhindra Rao adjourned the hearing of the bail applications in two of the five complaints consisting 15 cases filed by Advocate Sirajin Basha.

 

In both the complaints, Mr Yeddyurappa is the main accused. While in the first complaint, apart from Mr Yeddyurappa,14 of his family members are the accused.

 

In the second complaint, nine others, including his sons and son-in-law, are the accused.

 

All the 15, including Yeddyurappa, were present in the court.

 

Mr Yeddyurappa’s Counsel Ravi B Naik, in his plea, said Arkavathy Layout is very big and the one acre 24 guntas (a gunta is 1/40 of an acre) of land that was denotified in this case was ”just a small part whereas the 60 acres of land surrounding this pocket was already notified for Manyata Builders by Former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Former Governor Rameshwar Thakur.

Defiant Yeddyurappa told to quit; successor on Friday

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday asked its first chief minister in south India, Karnataka’s B.S. Yeddyurappa, to step down after the state’s ombudsman indicted him in a large-scale mining scam, but till late evening a defiant Yeddyurappa had not complied.

The BJP leadership announced that it will Friday select a successor to Yeddyurappa.The 68-year-old Yeddyurappa was told Thursday morning to resign immediately after Lokayukta N. Sanosh Hegde sought his trial for graft in the huge illegal mining scam that has caused a loss of over Rs.16,000 crore to the state.

However, there was no indication from Yeddyurappa when he will quit as he kept himself busy meeting supporters through the day to firm up, as his loyalists told , conditions on which he will leave the office.The loyalists, requesting anonymity, said the chief minister wants to name a successor and have a major say in cabinet formation.

On Thursday evening, word spread that Yeddyurappa has sent his resignation to party president Nitin Gadkari but within minutes the report was denied by ministers close to the chief minister.

The BJP camp was a hub of activity with party in-charge Dharmendra Pradhan meeting groups of legislators to know their views ahead of a formal meeting Friday to elect a new leader of the legislature party.

Former party president Rajnath Singh and senior leader Arun Jaitley will be the party central leadership’s observers for the meeting.Late Thursday, another former party president and Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, M. Venkaiah Naidu landed in Bangalore for talks with legislators and other state party leaders.

Though Dharmendra Pradhan was staying in a plush hotel close to Yeddyurappa’s residence on Race Course Road near the Vidhana Soudha (state secretariat), no meeting had taken place between the two.

Yeddyurappa did not stir out of the house since morning when party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad announced in Delhi the BJP parliamentary board’s decision to ask him to quit.Through the day, state party leaders and several ministers expressed their confidence that Yeddyurappa will abide by the “high command” decision.

State party chief K.S. Eshwarappa, Law Minister S. Suresh Kumar, party spokesperson C.T. Ravi were among those who said that Yeddyurappa would follow the party directive.

Higher Education Minister V.S. Acharaya said, “It is a question of time”.Eshwarappa and Ravi also hoped that Yeddyurappa will not leave the party.

“Ours is a national party, a disciplined party. No one has made any effort to vertically split the party. No one (who made attempt to split the party) has succeeded also,” Ravi said.

Among the names doing the rounds as the BJP’s new chief minister are Lok Sabha member D.V. Sadananda Gowda, who is former state unit head, Rural Development Minister Jagadish Shettar, Eshwarappa and party general secreatry H.N. Anantha Kumar, who is Lok Sabha member from Bangalore South.

Earlier, Eshwarappa told reporters: “As a loyal and disciplined member of the party, Yeddyurappa will obey the decision of the high command and resign soon. Though the chief minister explained his position on the mining issue to the party president (Nitin Gadkari) late Wednesday, Yeddyurappa has no alternative than to step down in conformity with the leadership’s decision.”

The first chief minister of the BJP in south India rushed to New Delhi late Wednesday night to brief Gadkari and other party leaders on the Karnataka Lokayukta’s (ombudsman) final investigation report on the multi-crore mining scam in the state over the years.

Discussions on the probe report and recommendations of the ombudsman (Justice N. Santosh Hegde) began around midnight and went on till early hours of Thursday at Gadkari’s residence. In line with the party’s policy decision earlier, Gadkari advised Yeddyurappa to step down immediately and pave way for the election of a new leader in his place.

The BJP, which came to power in Karnataka on its own for the first time in May 2008, has 22 more months to rule as the five-year term of the current state legislative assembly lasts till May 2013.

Even as the criminal involvement of Yeddyurappa in the mining scam became clear after a part of the probe report was leaked to the media July 21 and as Hegde told IANS last week, the party leadership decided to wait for the final report to be made public and find out if the chief minister’s prosecution was recommended under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

In a related development, the powerful Reddy brothers — Revenue Minister G. Karunakara and Tourism Minister G. Janardhana — and their close ally Health Minister B. Sriramulu also agreed to abide by the party’s leadership decision to remove Yeddyurappa.

The Reddy brothers and Sriramulu, who hail from the rich mining region of Bellary in north Karnataka, about 300 km from here, are among others against whom the ombudsman recommended prosecution for their criminal involvement in the mining scam.

Apex court restores membership of 16 Karnataka legislators

The Supreme Court Friday restored the membership of 16 disqualified Karnataka legislators, a development that could threaten continuation of B.S. Yeddyurappa as chief minister.

The 16 lawmakers, 11 of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and five Independents, were disqualified Oct 11, hours before Yeddyurappa was to seek confidence vote in the assembly following their withdrawal of support to him.

Most of the 16 lawmakers, who were in New Delhi for the keenly awaited verdict, told reporters that they would meet late Friday to decide their future course of action. They did not give a direct reply to whether they would again seek removal of Yeddyurappa.

“We will discuss and take a decision,” Belur Gopalakrishna, a legislator from Sagar in Yeddyurappa’s home district of Shimoga, about 280 km from Bangalore, told reporters.

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 apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph said in their judgment: “It is hard to explain the speaker’s decision (disqualifying the 16 legislators) and he has acted only on extraneous considerations.”

Speaking for the bench, Justice Kabir said that the speaker has acted in a partisan way and ignored the constitution.

Justice Kabir said: “Having considered the very questions raised in the petition (challenging disqualification), the proceedings of the speaker did not meet the twin test of natural justice inherent to fair trial and the constitutional provisions.”

In an observation of far reaching consequences on the five independent MLAs, the judgment said that “merely because five MLAs had joined the government does not mean that they lose their independent identity and cannot be treated differently.”

It was argued by those supporting their disqualification that once independent MLAs join the government, and implement its policies and decisions, they lose their independent status.

The disqualification of the BJP lawmakers and that of the independent MLAs were upheld by the Karnataka High Court by its Feb 14, 2011 verdict.

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 independents were Gulihatti Shekar, D. Sudhakar, P.M. Narendra Swamy, Venkataramanappa and Shivaraj Tangadagi.

The speaker carried out disqualification despite being told by Governor H.R. Bhardwaj not to disturb the strength of the state assembly by any punitive action prior to vote on confidence motion Oct 11, 2010.

Excluding the 11 party lawmakers whose membership was restored Friday, the BJP has 109 members in the 225-member assembly (including one nominated) and enjoys the support of one independent.

The Congress has 71 members and the Janata Dal-Secular 26. One seat is vacant.

The victorious 16 lawmakers now hold the key to the fate of Yeddyurapa, who is already facing increasing dissidence over his continuation in view of various charges of corruption and illegal land deals against him.

In Bangalore, BJP spokesperson and special representative in New Delhi V. Dhananjaya Kumar said there was no threat to Yeddyuappa as the 11 legislators who won their case remained BJP members.

After the apex court verdict Yeddyurappa held a meeting with ministers and legislators supporting him to discuss the impact and decide on steps to win over as many as 16 lawmakers to supporting him.

Lawyers to file prosecution case against Yeddyurappa Monday

With Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj late on Friday permitting prosecution of beleaguered Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on land scam and corruption charges, city lawyers Sirajin Basha and K N Balaraj have decided to file a criminal case in a special court here on Monday.

‘We are grateful to the Governor for granting us permission to prosecute the Chief Minister. We are in touch with our counsels to draft the petition to file the criminal case in the 23rd special court Monday,’ Basha said.

The Governor’s sanction came on a complaint by the lawyers under section 19(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for prosecuting the chief minister on the various grave charges of corruption and criminal misconduct.

‘We were forced to approach the governor after the Lokayukta (ombudsman) police refused to take our complaint as an FIR (first information report). The concerned police did not even acknowledge our complaint sent by registered post,’ Basha said.

The Governor’s office in a communique said Bhardwaj considered the lawyers’ complaint and passed an order to prosecute Yeddyurappa under the said provisions.

Asked if they would press for the chief minister’s resignation, Basha said it was up to him (Yeddyurappa) to decide whether to step down or not.

‘To resign or not is a moral issue. We are dealing with legal issues on the basis of evidence we have collected against the chief minister. Don’t bring politics into this case,’ Basha retorted.

Bashan also clarified that the state government would not be able to prevent them from filing the petition in the special court, as there was no provision for caveat by the state government in a criminal case.

‘This is a criminal case and not a civil case. Where is the question of admitting a caveat by the court?’ Basha quipped.