The Congress party on Wednesday termed the Supreme Court decision in the case of rebel MLAs as a “terrible precedent” and a “bad decision” which seemed to protect the defectors and encourage horse-trading as also nullifying the whip. It also wondered if the apex court had forayed into the legislature’s turf.
The Supreme Court has said that 15 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka "ought not" to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the Assembly. The decision can result in the coalition government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy losing the majority in Thursday’s floor test.
The court at the same time gave Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar the freedom to decide on the resignation of the 15 MLAs within such time-frame as considered appropriate by him.
"The Supreme Court’s order nullifying the whip and by extension, operation of Constitution's Tenth Schedule to punish MLAs betraying the public mandate, sets a terrible judicial precedent,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
"Tragic that SC didn't appreciate the context and designed history of defections to subvert democratic mandates by Modi government over the last five years. SC should recall its own judgement of May 2016 striking down the illegal attempt of BJP in Uttarakhand to form the government," Surjewala tweeted.
"Blanket protection to MLAs, who are driven not by ideology but by far baser concerns, is unheard-of," he said.
He also wondered whether the verdict means the court can interfere with the working of the state legislature by deciding when a whip will be enforced and whether the basic structure doctrine of separation of powers had been abandoned.
In a series of tweets, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao termed it an "extraordinary order".
"Supreme Court order seems perfectly coordinated to help the rebel MLAs to violate the Whip. It has set a wrong precedent as the value of the Whip as per the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution is now redundant. An extraordinary order indeed!," Rao tweeted.
"The Supreme Court verdict is now encroaching upon the rights of the legislature. This is a bad judgement which seems to protect the defectors and encourages horse trading and also violating the doctrine of separation of powers," he said in another tweet.
However, another Congress spokesman and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who had appeared in the case on Speaker’s behalf, took a varying position and called it a victory for his party.
"We are happy as a political party that we have emerged victorious," Singhvi, told reporters outside Parliament.
"I welcome the Supreme Court to have given a decision as per the Constitution and law," he said accusing the BJP of "spreading misinformation and false propaganda".
"Ninety per cent of the case argued says the speaker should decide in ‘X’ number of days. Honourable court says we should not fetter the Speaker in any case. The SC has said the Speaker can decide what he likes, when he likes and hence the Speaker will decide. Where is the question of acting on a Whip which has not been issued yet?" he asked.
He said the Speaker can accept or reject the resignation within his jurisdiction. "The decision will be entirely of the Speaker, in which the court refused to intervene." "If more people resign, the government should go, that's how democracy works. There has been a misinformation campaign by the BJP in the last couple of weeks. Speaker will now be the master of the proceedings. He will decide as per his discretion," he said.
Singhvi said the false propaganda about the decision shows how the decision has gone against the opposition in Karnataka and claimed that claims of BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa over government formation would remain "a dream".