Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar Tuesday told the Supreme Court that he, being a constitutional functionary, cannot be directed to first decide on the resignations of rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs, that too within a particular time frame.
Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy questioned the jurisdiction of the apex court in entertaining the pleas of 15 rebel MLAs, who are seeking a direction to the Speaker to accept their resignations, and said these lawmakers are "hunting in a pack" to bring down the government.
Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for the Speaker, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that disqualification applications against these MLAs were moved prior to their resignations and the Speaker was well within his right to choose his course of action.
Singhvi urged the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, to modify its earlier interim order directing him to maintain the status quo in the ongoing political crisis in the state.
He said the Speaker can decide on both disqualifications and resignation of these MLAs by Wednesday but the court should modify its earlier order asking him to maintain status quo.
"Nobody is saying that Speaker is not fallible but he cannot be asked to decide the matter in a time-bound manner," he told the bench. "How can the Speaker be directed to decide in a particular manner?. Such orders are not passed even to a trial court." He also said that a valid resignation should be submitted to the Speaker personally and the MLAs had appeared before him only on July 11, five days after they submitted their resignations to his office.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Kumaraswamy, said that the apex court has "exceeded" its jurisdiction by entertaining the rebel MLAs plea.
"When the Supreme Court passed the two interim orders (in the matter), in my submissions, you exceeded your jurisdiction," he said.
"This is not the Speaker versus the court. This is between the Chief Minister and somebody who wants to become the Chief Minister and bring down this government," he added.
He said that when the resignation process is not in order, the court cannot direct the Speaker to decide on it by 6 PM.
"They (the rebel MLAs) are hunting in a pack," Dhavan said, adding that they had gone to hotel in Mumbai together instead of meeting the Speaker.
"The Speaker has to notice that a pack of 15 is hunting and not only they are hunting, they want to bring down this government," he said.
He said that rules of the apex court are clear that it will not entertain any petition under Article 32 of the Constitution unless there is violation of fundamental rights.
Dhavan said that these MLAs, through their petition, want the court to enter into a "political thicket".
The bench, after hearing the submissions of the counsels representing rebel MLAs, the Speaker and Chief Minister, said it would pronounce its order on Wednesday on the pleas filed by these 15 lawmakers seeking a direction for the Speaker to accept their resignations.
Outside the court, Speaker Ramesh Kumar told mediapersons in Kola district that he was working as per the Constitution and was performing his duty.
Fifteen ruling coalition rebel MLAs of both Congress and JD(S) have moved the apex court alleging delay in accepting their resignations. The court will pronounce its order on Wednesday morning.
As many as 16 MLAs -- 13 from the Congress and three from the JD(S) -- have resigned while two independent MLAs S. Shankar and H. Nagesh have withdrawn their support to the coalition government, keeping it on the edge.
In a bid to keep their flock together ahead of the floor test, the Congress, BJP and JD(S) have shifted their MLAs to resorts.
The Congress on Tuesday shifted its MLAs from a hotel in the city to a resort on the outskirts, amid fears that some more legislators may resign.
The ruling coalition's strength in the House is 117-- Congress 78, JD(S) 37, BSP 1, and nominated 1, besides the Speaker.
With the support of the two Independents, the opposition BJP has 107 MLAs in the 225-member House, including the nominated MLA and Speaker.
If the resignations of the 16 MLAs are accepted, the ruling coalition's tally will be reduced to 101.