In a new twist to the Karnataka Assembly election drama, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court at midnight Wednesday, 16 May, to appeal against the Karnataka Governor inviting the Bharatiya Janata Party to form the government in the state.
The apex court, in a rare occasion, began the hearing in the case at 1:45 am. A bench comprising Justices AK Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and SA Bobde was constituted when the Congress and the JD(S) decided to file the petition challenging Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to allow BJP to form the government in the state despite falling short of the halfway-mark of 112 seats.
The bench refused to stay the swearing-in of BS Yeddyurappa as Karnataka Chief Minister, however, it added that the it will look into the governor’s decision on Friday, 18 May.
The court also directed Yeddyurappa to produce the letters informing Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala of the BJP’s majority in the state.
The Quint first broke the story at 8:41 pm on Wednesday, 16 May, when the JD(S) lawyer left his office to meet Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi to finalise the petition.
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The Quint has exclusively accessed the copy of the 48 pages petition filed in the SC.
The petitioners ( Cong-JD (S) ) have called the Karnataka Governor’s invitation to B S Yeddyurappa of BJP to form the government, “unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal and violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India”.
One of the prayers in the petition is,
“The Karnataka Governor (should) invite the alliance of JD (S) and INC, which has the support of more than 112 MLAs, to form the Government under the leadership of H. D Kumaraswamy.”
The petition also says that the Governor’s invitation to the BJP to prove majority in 15 days will encourage “horse-trading and for perpetrating the constitutional sin”.
“As a matter of fact several news paper reports also suggest that massive efforts and naked display of money and muscle power by the BJP is underway to poach these MLAs... JD (S) has claimed (in news reports) that JD(S) MLAs were being offered bribes to the tune of Rs 100 crore.”
BJP Controlling the Karnataka Governor’s Office: Petition
The petition also alleged that the Karnataka Governor’s office was under the direct influence of the Centre.
The petition says,
“The BJP which is running the Government at the Centre, in order to somehow have its party rule the State despite not having majority, is trying to use the Governor’s Office to somehow delay the invitation to the Petitioners so that in the ensuing time all kinds of unconstitutional and illegal means can be adopted to some how form the Government. It is submitted that such maneuvering by the BJP and the Governor to suit their political agenda actually amounts to a death knell to the democracy which is a basic feature of our Constitution.”
On The Discretionary Power of the Governor
The petition says that the discretionary powers conferred to the governor under the Constitution have to be exercised within “the constitutional norms and conventions guiding the exercise of such discretion."
It further adds,
“The discretionary powers exercised by the Governor are not beyond the pale of judicial review, and any illegal and arbitrary decision taken against the constitutional provisions and conventions is liable to be interfered with and struck down by the Supreme Court.”
The Congress-JD(S) petition says Governor Vala is “constitutionally obliged” to invite the Congress-JD(S)-BSP alliance of 116 MLAs to form the government, which has already demonstrated the support of the majority of the legislators.
The petition further adds,
“At the stage of formation of Government the Governor is duty bound to only select a Chief Minister who can demonstrate on an objective basis that he enjoys the confidence of majority of legislators of house. No such demonstrations either by letters of support or by parading of MLAs has been done by the BJP. The BJP clearly falls short of the halfway mark of 112. In any event the BJP cannot get the support of majority through legal constitutional means. In these circumstances and in no event and in no circumstance could the Governor select Yeddyurappa to be the Chief Minister and invite him to form the Government.”