Karnataka Assembly Speaker prevented from ordering disqualification

The question before Supreme Court:

The issue arising in the case is whether resignations submitted by Members of the Legislative Assembly at a point of time earlier than petitions for their disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution should have priority in the decision making process or whether both sets of proceedings should be taken up simultaneously or the disqualification proceedings should  have precedence over the request(s) for resignation.

The order of Supreme Court:

The imperative necessity,at this stage, is to maintain the constitutional balance and the conflicting and competing rights that have been canvassed before us. Such an interim exercise has become prudent in view of certain time frame exercise(s) that is in the offing in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, particularly, the no-trust motion against the present Government, which we are told is due for being taken up on 18th July, 2019.

In these circumstances, the competing claims have to be balanced by an appropriate interim order, which according to us, should be to permit the Hon’ble Speaker of the House to decide on the request for resignations by the 15 Members of the House within such time frame as the Hon’ble Speaker may consider appropriate.

We also take the view that in the present case the discretion of the Hon’ble Speaker while deciding the above issue should not be fettered by any direction or observation of this Court and the Hon’ble Speaker should be left free to decide the issue in accordance with Article 190 read with Rule 202 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly framed in exercise of the powers under Article 208 of the Constitution. The order of the Hon’ble Speaker on the resignation issue, as and when passed, be placed before the Court.

We also make it clear that until further orders the 15 Members of the Assembly, ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or to opt to remain out of the same.

[Source: Pratap Gouda Patil v. State of Karnataka, decided by SC on 17 July 2019]
Editorial Comment:

It may be seen that if the ruling combine (i.e. Kumarswamy Government) loses majority tomorrow, a new government will be formed by majority. The house shall also be appointing new speaker soon. The above order may be interim order but it seems to seal the fate of the Government.

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