Early on Thursday, the Supreme Court heard a Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) joint petition asking that the swearing-in of BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa as Karnataka's new Chief Minister be postponed, among other prayers. The joint petition challenged Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to invite Yeddyurappa to form a new government in the state despite having only 104 MLAs—eight short of a simple majority. The Congress and JD(S) post-poll alliance claims it has a majority of 116 members in the new assembly.
During the hearing, the apex court bench headed by Justice AK Sikri and also including Justices SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, made some caustic comments on Attorney General KK Venugopal’s claim that the anti-defection law did not apply to newly-elected MLAs, who had yet to take oath. The Attorney General is the main lawyer for the central government.
News website Bar and Bench reported the following exchange between Attorney General Venugopal and Justice AK Sikri. “Venugopal says defection law will not apply before taking of oath. Bench does not agree. "That is preposterous", says AK Sikri J”.
Journalist Apurva Vishwanath also reported the exchange between the Attorney General Venugopal and Justices Sikri and Bhushan. “AG: Anti-defection law would come into force only after the MLAs are sworn in. Justice Sikri and Bhushan: Does that mean all the suitcase exchange is possible before they are sworn in? That's impermissible.”
"It means open invitation to horse-trading," IANS quoted Justice Sikri as saying. "In a case like this where the opposite side is showing 117 MLAs support, how will you have 112?," Justice Sikri asked Venugopal.
During the hearing, that commenced at 2.20 am and concluded with the court passing order at 5.30 in the morning, the apex court refused to stay the swearing in of BS Yeddyurappa, however it sought the communications which Yeddyurappa had written to Karnataka Governor informing him of his election as BJP legislature party. Attorney General KK Venugopal was asked to produce the letters which the court was told are with the Karnataka Governor.
The bench said that the swearing-in of BS Yeddyurappa is subject to the final outcome of the matter, before it directed further hearing of the matter at 10.30 am on Friday, May 18.
With IANS inputs