Karnataka Floor Test Tomorrow: How the SC Hearing Played Out
A special bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice AK Sikri, ordered that a floor test be conducted in the Karnataka Assembly on Saturday, 19 May, at 4 pm. The Supreme Court was hearing the petition of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) challenging the order of Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala to allow BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa to form the government in the state.
The Congress-JD(S) first moved the apex court at midnight Wednesday, 17 May, seeking a stay on the swearing-in of Yeddyurappa as Karnataka chief minister. The court had, however, rejected that plea and said it would resume hearing on Friday, 18 May.
Here is how the crucial Supreme Court hearing played out on Friday:
The First Act
- The Supreme Court, during the middle-of-the-night hearing on Wednesday, 17 May, had ordered the BJP counsel to produce the letters written by BS Yeddyurappa (BSY) to Karanataka Governor Vajubhai Vala seeking to form the government in the state.
- Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for BSY, handed over the two letters to the three-judge bench of Justices AK Sikri, Ashok Bhushan, and SA Bobde. The letters stated that BSY was elected as leader of the BJP, the largest party in the Assembly, and had the support of the necessary number of MLAs to prove majority on the floor of the House.
- Supreme Court told Mukul Rohtagi, “On one hand you claim you have the single largest party with support, at the same time the Congress-JD(S) have given support in writing to the governor.”
- The top court asked on what basis did the governor decide who could provide a stable government, when on one hand the single-largest party did not have a clear majority while on the other, the Congress-JD(S) combine had written support of the majority of MLAs.
- Rohatgi said support would come from Congress and JD(S) MLAs, adding that “I don't want to say anything more at this stage.”
- Rohatgi claimed, “I have instruction from several MLAs from the other side that they have not given written support to the Congress-JD(S) combine.”
It’s a Numbers Game: Supreme Court
- “It is just a numbers game, one who enjoys the majority should be invited to form the government,” the Supreme Court said.
- Floor test seems to be the best option, opined Justice AK Sikri, who was heading the three-judge bench.
- Congress leader and counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued, “Yeddyurappa claimed support, but he does not have letters of support from these MLAs; it is only his oral submission.”
- “Congress ready for a floor-test tomorrow,” Singhvi told the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Orders Floor Test
- Supreme Court stayed the Congress-JD(S) plea challenging Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to nominate Anglo-Indian MLA Vinisha Nero to the Assembly.
- BJP counsel Mukul Rohatgi opposed the Congress and JD(S) demand for a floor test on Saturday, 19 May, and asked for at least a week’s time.
- The bench said that there were past precedents fixing such a time period for a floor test.
- Veteran advocate Ram Jethmalani, who had said he was not representing any party before the hearing, said the Supreme Court should uphold the rule of law that the governor had violated.
- Rohatgi made one last attempt and asked the court to fix the floor test for Monday, 21 May.
- However, the Supreme Court ordered the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government to take the floor test at 4 pm on Saturday, 19 May.
- The apex court also barred interim CM Yeddyurappa from taking any major policy decision till the floor test was over.
- All legislators will be sworn in before the floor test.
- Pro tem speaker will conduct the floor test, the top court ordered.
- The court did not specify the next date of hearing, but said it will take up Congress-JD(S)‘ plea on the Karnataka governor’s decision to invite BJP to form government within 10 weeks.