Supreme Court to hear plea to bar candidates from contesting from more than one seat

 The Supreme Court Wednesday said it would hear after two weeks a plea which has sought to restrict a candidate from contesting from more than one constituency in a general election.

The matter was mentioned for early listing of the plea before a bench of Justices S A Bobde, M M Shantanagoudar and S Abdul Nazeer.

“List after two weeks before appropriate bench,” the bench said.

The Election Commission (EC) in an affidavit filed earlier in the apex court had quoted its 2004 proposals on electoral reforms and said that law should be amended to ensure that a person cannot contest from more than one seat.

It also said that its proposal to bar candidates from contesting from more than one seat was rejected by a parliamentary standing committee way back in 1998, which had taken note of the view of an all-party meeting favouring to retain the provision.

In response to the petition filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, EC said there was no change in its 2004 proposal.

It said: “As regards the proposal of the Election Commission of India that there should be an express provision in law requiring a person who contests and wins election from two seats, resulting in a bye-election from one of the two constituencies, to deposit in the government account an appropriate amount of money being the expenditure for holding bye-election, it is further stated that the amount proposed at that point of time was Rs 5 lakh for state Assembly and Rs 10 lakh for election to the House of People.”

EC submitted that there was no change in its stand on this proposal but the amount proposed in the year 2004 may be enhanced appropriately.

In his plea, Upadhyay has sought directions to the authorities to take appropriate steps to discourage the independent candidates from contesting parliamentary and state Assembly elections as suggested by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC).

He said the question of independent candidates is often connected with the issue of fragmented voting and instability in the electoral system and referred to the Law Commission’s 170th report which said the time is now ripe for debarring independent candidates from contesting Lok Sabha elections.

“Similarly, the NCRWC has recommended discouragement of independent candidates, who are often dummy candidates or defectors from their party or those denied party tickets,” the petition said.

Supreme Court apprehends more emergency hearings: Karnataka row

The Supreme Court, which had to conduct emergency hearings on the bitter power tussle in Karnataka, today apprehended that it might be forced to do it again if this legal fight is not put to rest.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Congress-JD(S) combine, at the outset expressed his regret to a three-judge bench headed by Justice A K Sikri for being forced to sit on the first day of summer vacation to hear its plea against Pro Tem Speaker K G Bopaiah.

“First of all, I must apologise to the bench for this inconvenience of assembling on a Saturday,” Sibal said.

When the bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, was about to rise after ordering live telecast of crucial Karnataka floor test, another senior advocate A M Singhvi, representing the alliance, said, “We hope that we will not disturb the bench on Sunday.”

“That is what we were also talking about,” the bench said.

During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal made a request to the bench to use microphones as the scribes standing behind in the courtroom were unable to hear the observations.

The bench promptly obliged the attorney general and all the three judges switched on their microphones.

Later, when the bench was about to dictate the order, Sibal again requested Justice Sikri, heading the bench, to switch on the mike and said, “As politicians we know how to make ourselves heard…

“But we are not politicians. We don’t care,” the bench responded.

In a historic pre-dawn hearing which started at 2:11 am and concluded at 5.28 am, the apex court on May 17 had refused to stay Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to administer oath of office to B S Yeddyurappa as chief minister.

Last night, the alliance again moved a fresh plea for emergency hearing to challenge the appointment of Bopaiah as the pro tem speaker which got listed today on a holiday.

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.

SC dismisses five petitions challenging CBSE’s retest decision

The Supreme Court today dismissed five petitions challenging the CBSE’s decision to conduct a re-examination of the Class 12 economics paper after an alleged leak.

The top court said it is the discretion of the Central Board of Secondary Education to conduct the re-examination and can’t be challenged in the court.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao asked the students who had challenged the CBSE’s decision to appear in the examination if conducted.

Several petitions were filed before the apex court after the CBSE said on March 28 that the Class 10 maths and Class 12 economics paper had allegedly leaked.

The CBSE said yesterday that it has found after assessment there was no impact of alleged paper leak of Class 10 maths paper and no re-examination would be held.

Besides challenging the CBSE’s decision, the petitioners also wanted a CBI probe into the alleged paper leak, saying several incidents were reported from various states and Delhi Police was not competent to hold the nation-wide probe.

Besides seeking an independent probe into the leak, one of the petitioners, 15-year-old Rohan Mathew, also sought a direction to the CBSE to declare the results on the basis of the examinations already conducted.

The CBSE, on March 30, had announced that it would re-conduct the examination for economics for Class 12 throughout the country on April 25.

Mathew and two others have moved the top court seeking quashing of the CBSE’s decision to re-conduct the Class 10 mathematics examination on several grounds, including violation of their fundamental rights.

Earlier, another plea was filed in the apex court by Reepak Kansal, a resident of Shakarpur here, challenging the decision of the CBSE to cancel and re-conduct the two papers.

“It is to be noted that this year, 16,38,428 students are appearing for the Class 10 and 11,86,306 students for Class 12 in the CBSE examinations.

“And therefore, to penalise the student community for an incident which is under investigation and without completion of that investigation/enquiry and issuing a notice on March 28, 2018 (for re-exams), affects the fundamental rights of students which is arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional,” the plea said.