Disqualified Karnataka MLAs can’t be deprived from contesting coming by-polls: Election Commission in SC

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Congress and the JD(S) and the Karnataka Assembly Speaker on plea by disqualified MLAs against validity of the order stripping them of their membership and debarring them from contesting again in current term. The Supreme Court heard the plea made by the Karnataka MLAs disqualified by then Assembly Speaker K Ramesh two months ago just before the collapse of the Karnataka government led by JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy. The case is adjourned till Wednesday; September 25.SC has issued notice to incumbent Assembly Speaker who belongs to the ruling party. The disqualified lawmakers urged the Supreme Court to suspend the process to hold by polls in their vacant seats till a decision is taken on their appeal against the Speaker’s decision, reported Hindustan Times. SC says it will hear on Wednesday plea of the disqualified MLAs seeking interim relief in the matter. Election Commission told the apex court that by polls for the 15 Assembly seats in Karnataka should not be stayed. The Election Commission said that the Former Speaker’s order disqualifying 17 MLAs cannot deprive them of right to contest by polls in Karnataka. The Congress and Janata Dal Secular lawmakers had resigned their seats in July. KR Ramesh, who was the speaker before the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government lost its majority, however, ruled that they had violated the anti-defection law and disqualified them. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the disqualified MLAs, urged the court to either suspend the by polls in their constituencies scheduled on October 21 or allow them to contest the elections. He read out the apex court’s earlier orders relating to the direction to the then Speaker to first accept their resignations, then status quo and then finally that they ought not be compelled to participate in the Assembly proceedings. As an interim relief, “Either election to 15 seats should be stayed. Or without prejudice, the disqualified MLAs should be allowed to contest.” Rohatgi said the Speaker disqualified the MLAs after giving them just three days notice, though a minimum seven days has to be given as per the rules framed under the Tenth Schedule. “The Speaker said your resignation is voluntary but is motivated by cross over. Not only did he disqualify but also debarred them till 2023,” he said. The Election Commission, represented by senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, said the polls should not be stayed. “The EC has much to stay on disqualification. Elections should not be stayed. The Speaker can’t deprive them of contesting,” he said.

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