Karnataka : 'Floor Test Likely To Be Held Today', Speaker Tells SC; Hearing Adjourned

Karnataka :

After the Speaker of Karnataka assembly told the Supreme Court that the floor test was likely to be held during the course of today itself, the CJI-led bench on Tuesday adjourned till tomorrow the hearing of the writ petition filed by two MLAs for holding trust vote in Karnataka assembly.

Appearing for Speaker Ramesh Kumar, Senior Advocate Dr A M Singhvi said that he was 'optimistic' that the floor test could be held during the course of the day.

"Everyday, the Speaker promises 'I'll do it (the trust vote)'. Yesterday, he said he will do it by 6. Then midnight. Then kept it for tomorrow. What is going on? Last year, this court had stipulated 4 'o' clock! Appointment of protem!", began Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi.

"They are pressing for wrong orders when nothing is required. The motion was moved on the 18th. Today is the fourth day. No-confidence motion is to be concluded in 24 hours, 21 hours, 28 hours? They are seeking interim orders for an ongoing motion which is like a hearing in the court...The Speaker had announced on the floor of the House that he would do it by yesterday evening. Then he said he would continue it today. Not a single day's break has been taken. There are people to be managed. I am optimistic it will be done by today...anyway, nobody can escape a trust vote!...First the Governor interfered (in prescribing a deadline to the Speaker), now my friend (Mr. Rohatgi) is drawing Your Lordships! What will happen if there are not enough numbers and the government falls? It will finish by tomorrow. What is so great about it", countered Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, on behalf of the Assembly Speaker.

He placed reliance on Article 212 [Courts not to inquire into proceedings of the Legislature] and the top court decisions in Saeed Siddiqui and Nabam Rebia [power of the Governor as to the ongoings in the Assembly].

"In the meanwhile, the Speaker has issued disqualification notices to the 15 (rebel) MLAs to appear today! That is what he doing!", argued Mr. Rohatgi.

"No- confidence motions and urgent motions are the most important for the Assembly. There are still some people who have to speak. We are also hoping that between today and tomorrow it will happen...But this order (of last year where the court had directed the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly to be held within 24 hours) was when the House had not been constituted, the legislature was not formed. It cannot be used as a precedent for every jurisdictional issue", added Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhawan for the CM.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi then proceeded to adjourn the hearing till Wednesday.