Court upholds 11 Karnataka BJP legislators’ disqualification (Second Lead)

Friday, October 29, 2010

BANGALORE - The Karnataka High Court Friday upheld the disqualification of 11 rebel lawmakers of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the state assembly for expressing lack of confidence in Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. The 11 said they will now move the apex court.

Yeddyurappa hailed the verdict as a lesson to defectors.

Yeddyurappa, state BJP chief K.S. Eshwarappa, senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka M. Venkaiah Naidu and other BJP leaders exchanged sweets to celebrate the court verdict.

In a 127-page judgment, Justice V.G. Sabhahit upheld state Speaker K.G. Bopaiahs Oct 11 decision to disqualify the members from the assembly after they told Governor H.R. Bhardwaj Oct 6 they had lost confidence in Yeddyurappa.

Bopaiah invoked the anti-defection law to conclude that the 11 rebels, by their action of going to the governor to express lack of confidence in Yeddyurappa, had voluntarily given up the party membership and ruled that under part 2(1)(a) of the 10th schedule of the Constitution, pertaining to the anti-defection law, the 11 legislators stand disqualified to be members of the house.

Part 2 of the 10th schedule deals with Disqualification on ground of defection and (1)(a) says “a member of a House belonging to any political party shall be disqualified for being a member of the House if he has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party”.

Justice Sabhahit is the third judge who heard the disqualification case after a division bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice N. Kumar delivered a split verdict Oct 18.

Khehar had upheld the disqualification while Kumar had quashed it. Since the two judges differed on whether part 2(1)(a) of the 10th schedule applies to this case, they referred the issue to Sabhahit.

Sabhahit said he agreed with Khehar and sent back the matter to the two judges to issue formal orders. With this, it will be a 2-to-1 judgment upholding the disqualification of the rebel lawmakers.

The 11 disqualified legislators are Gopalakrishna Beluru, Anand Asnotikar, Balachandra Jarkiholi, B.N. Sarvabhouma, Bharamgowda H. Kage, Y. Sampangi, G.N. Nanjundaswamy, M.V. Nagaraju, Shivanagouda Naik, H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda and Bellubbi Sangappa Kalappa.

The rebel legislators told reporters they will challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Jarkiholi and Gopalakrishna said the 11 legislators were not disheartened by the verdict going against them and that they were united in carrying on their battle against Yeddyurappa.

One of the grounds on which the 11 rebels and five Independents expressed lack of confidence in Yeddyurappa was that he was corrupt.

Along with the 11 legislators, five Independents were also disqualified on the same grounds after the speaker served show-cause notice Oct 8 and gave them time till Oct 10 to explain why they should not be disqualified for indulging in anti-party activities.

The disqualification of the 11 rebel BJP lawmakers and five Independents came only hours before Yeddyurappa was to take the confidence vote in the assembly. The vote by voice was marred by bedlam in the house.

Of the 11 BJP legislators, Asnotikar and Jarkiholi were ministers as were four of the five Independents in the 34-member cabinet.

The disqualification case of the five Independents is scheduled to be heard Nov 2 by another division bench, which is yet to be constituted by the chief justice.

The five disqualified Independent members of the assembly are Shivaraj S. Tangadagi, Venkataramanappa, P.M. Narendra Swamy, D. Sudhakar and Gulihatti Shekar.

On the direction of the governor, Yeddyurappa, however, took another trust vote Oct 14 by division of votes and won it with 106-100 margin in a house with effective membership of 209, including one nominated and two legislators abstaining from the special sessions.

Former chief minister and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) state president H.D. Kumaraswamy, who had been interacting with the rebels almost on a daily basis since the crisis began Oct 6, said his party will continue to support them in their battle in the Supreme Court.

Since the crisis for BJPs first government in Karnataka and south India began Oct 6, the JD-S and the main opposition Congress have been charging that party with trying to buy their legislators with huge money.

Two Congress and one JDS lawmaker have resigned from the assembly allegedly at the behest of BJP.

The two parties say BJP was offering between Rs.25 crore and Rs.50 crore for any legislator willing to switch loyalties.

BJP has denied the charges.

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