The Supreme Court bench of Justices A. K. Sikri, S. A. Bobde and Ashok Bhushan on Saturday refused to entertain the prayers on behalf of INC and JD (S) leaders G. Parmeshwara and H. D. Kumaraswamy respectively for setting aside the appointment of K. G. Bopaiah as the Pro Tem Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly tor the purpose of the floor test at 4 PM, in view of the statement of ASG Tushar Mehta that the Secretary of the Assembly shall record the proceedings and that several regional channels are permitted to simultaneously telecast the live feed.
“There can be no more transparency”, remarked the bench, clarifying that there may be no other items on the agenda during the floor test.
It is to be noted that Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala had appointed Bopaiah, MLA from Virajpet, as the Pro Tem Speaker hours after the Supreme Court preponed the floor test to Saturday and ordered that the mode of voting would be decided by the Pro Tem Speaker.
This sent the Congress and the JD(S) once again to the Supreme Court on Friday evening seeking quashing of Bopaiah’s appointment while also praying that the floor test be videographed.
Both the parties submitted in their application that “there are grave and genuine concerns as far as the impartiality of the present pro tem Speaker is concerned. The said pro tem Speaker i.e. Shri Bopaiah was also the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly from 2009 – 2013 and had allowed the disqualification petition moved by the Respondent No. 3 (BSY), who was also the then Chief Minister, against some MLAs, in order to save his Government which was subsequently set aside by this Hon’ble Court in D. Sudhakar v D. N. Jeevaraju and Balchandra Jarikholi v B.SYedyurappa”.
The application filed by the two parties said “the manner in which preparations for the floor test is being carried out seems to suggest that it is being designed to replicate defections orchestrated by Respondent No. 3 in the year 2008 when he was again short of majority. The same is commonly known as “Operation Lotus”.
They also alleged that BSY in tandem with the Central government is exercising influence through the Governor of the State to ensure that he sails through the floor test by hook or crook, in absolute disregard to Parliamentary practice and the well-established convention of appointing the senior-most member as the pro tem Speaker.
It is to be noted that hours after the apex court ordered the Floor Test to be conducted tomorrow and the Pro Tem Speaker deciding the mode of the test, the Governor had appointed Bopaiah as the Pro Tem Speaker.
The decision sent Congress and JD (S) rushing back to the apex court where they submitted that despite the settled parliamentary convention and practice for appointment of a pro tem Speaker, a junior MLA K.G. Bopaiah (BJP) with a “dubious and controversial record of passing biased disqualification orders has been appointed as the pro tem Speaker”.
Challenging what it called shocking disregard of “binding parliamentary convention and long-standing parliamentary practice of appointing the senior most member of the House who is currently serving his 8th tenure, the parties submitted that they apprehend that “the sole purpose of appointing a relatively junior member of the House is nothing but an attempt to seize and manipulate the floor test slated to be held on 19.05.2018 in the House, pursuant to the direction passed by this Hon’ble Court”.