Watch: Midnight Drama at SC Over Karnataka, as it Happened

Watch: Midnight Drama at SC Over Karnataka, as it Happened

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  • 9.30 PM: Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala formally invites BJP to form government, gives them 15 days to prove majority
  • 11.30 PM: Congress-JD(S) combine moves SC against Governor’s decision, seeks an urgent hearing
  • 12.30 AM: Registrar accepts petition, heads to CJI’s house
  • 2.15 AM: Abhishek Manu Singhvi for the Congress-JD(S) combine, Attorney General KK Venugopal for the Union of India, Mukul Rohatgi for three BJP MLAs from Karnataka begin hearing
  • 6 AM: Court refuses to stay the swearing-in of BS Yeddyurappa, says will take up the matter at 10:30 AM on Friday, 18 May. The top court clarifies that swearin-in is subject to the outcome of the case.
  • 9 AM: Yeddyurappa takes oath as Karnataka Chief Minister

A day after Karnataka Assembly election results were declared, the drama over who would form the government reached the Supreme Court of India.

Late at night, on 16 May, Wednesday, the SC agreed to hear petitions filed by the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) against Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite BJP nominee BS Yeddyurappa to form government.

The Congress-JD (S) alliance said that with 117 MLAs, their post-poll coalition has the majority in the house, while the BJP has only 104 seats — which is below the majority mark of 112.

At around 2:11 am, the SC began hearing the urgent petition filed by the Congress-JD(S), urging the apex court to defer the swearing-in of BSY on Thursday morning at 9 am.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing three BJP MLAs – Govind M Karjol, CM Udasi and Basavaraj Bommai – opposed the arguments to defer or stay the swearing-in ceremony.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Congress and the JD(S), referred to guidelines stated in the Sarkaria Commission’s report of 1988, where the largest party or the group of parties should first be invited by the governor.

Also Read : Exclusive: Cong Calls Karnataka Guv’s Nod for BJP Govt ‘Illegal’

After nearly three hours of arguments, the SC refused to interfere in the swearing-in of BSY, even as Singhvi urged the court to defer the ceremony till 4:30 pm on Thursday.

Rohtagi argued that constitutional obligation of the governor was to invite a party to form a new government and his action could always be judicially reviewed and the court may order for restoration of status-quo as was done in the case of Arunachal Pradesh.

The bench, on their part, expressed concern about why 15 days were given to the BJP government to prove its majority, adding that all these decisions of the governor would be subjected to judicial review.

“Here, there are three major parties. BJP is the single largest party, Congress is second and JD(S) is third. Now, the Congress-JD(S) combine outweigh the BJP. Then, in this situation, on what basis he (Yeddyurppa) has staked claim to form the government? We do not have those letters. It’s only on surmises. The arithmetic is such that defies on what basis it was done,” the bench observed. 

At around 6 am, the hearing came to an end with the SC allowing for BSY’s oath-taking ceremony, but maintaining that the formation of the state government will depend on the final decision of the bench on the petitions filed by the Congress and JD(S). The court will conduct its next hearing in the case at 10:30 am on Friday, 18 May.

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