Court verdict on Karnataka rebel legislators Friday

Thursday, October 28, 2010

BANGALORE - The Karnataka High Court will give its verdict Friday on an appeal by 11 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators against their disqualification.

A single judge bench of Justice V.G. Sabhahit is scheduled to give the verdict at 2.30 p.m., according to the court’s registry. He had reserved the verdict Oct 21 after two days of arguments for and against the disqualification by Karnataka assembly Speaker K.G. Bopaiah.

While leading advocates in Karnataka argued the case of the 11 legislators, former attorney general of India Soli Sorabjee defended their disqualification.

Justice Sabhahit heard the appeal after Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice N. Kumar earlier differed on the issue.

Chief Justice Khehar upheld Bopaiah’s decision to disqualify the 11 legislators after they told Governor H.R. Bhardwaj that they have lost confidence in Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

Justice Kumar quashed Bopaiah’s order.

Following the split verdict, the chief justice decided to refer the issue to a single judge of the court and named Justice Sabhahit to hear the case.

The appeal of five independent legislators, who were also disqualified along with the 11 BJP lawmakers, will come up before a two-judge bench Nov 2.

The 16 were disqualified by the speaker invoking the anti-defection law of 1985 ahead of a trust vote in the assembly Oct 11. Yeddyurappa won the vote amid chaos and unruly scenes and Bhardwaj told him to seek a second trust vote Oct 14.

Yeddyurappa won that test by 106 votes to 100 in the 225-member assembly whose strength was reduced to 209 following the disqualification of the 16 legislators.

Chief Justice Khehar and Justice Kumar ruled that the trust vote outcome was subject to their decision on the appeal of the 16 lawmakers against their disqualification.

The revolt against Yeddyurappa, the second after he took over as BJP’s first chief minister in Karnataka in May 2008, was sparked by dissatisfaction over denial of cabinet berth to many BJP aspirants.

The independents joined their ranks as one of them had been dropped from the ministry recently and the four others feared losing their posts. The four were sacked after they rebelled.

The five independents were rewarded with a ministry each as they helped the BJP to form the government in May 2008 as it had fallen short of majority. The party had won only 110 seats in the 225-strong house, including one nominated member.

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