Stop Karnataka bypolls on 15 seats, disqualified MLAs ask Supreme Court

Former Karnataka Speaker KR Ramesh disqualified these MLAs and are barred from contesting the election till the term of the current assembly under the anti-defection law.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Election Commission to respond to a petition by Karnataka’s 15 disqualified lawmakers who want the process to hold bypolls on their seats suspended till a decision is taken on their appeal against the Speaker’s decision. The top court will start hearing this request on Wednesday.

The request to the three-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana comes days after the Election Commission announced elections for 15 Karnataka vacant assembly seats. The formal order notifying the election is scheduled to be issued on 27 September, Friday.

The lawmakers, disqualified by former speaker KR Ramesh, are barred from contesting the election till the term of the current assembly under the anti-defection law ends.

The Congress and Janata Dal Secular lawmakers had resigned their seats in July before shifting to resorts and hotels in Mumbai where they were sequestered, allegedly by BJP leaders, to prevent them from changing their mind. KR Ramesh, who was the speaker before the HD Kumaraswamy-led coalition government lost its majority, however, ruled that they had violated the anti-defection law and disqualified them.

The exit of the Congress-JD(S) MLAs during HD Kumaraswamy’s trust vote had led to the collapse of the coalition government in July and helped the BJP come to power.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the disqualified MLAs, told the bench that as per disqualification orders of then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, these persons cannot contest elections for the remaining period of this Assembly which will end in 2023.

The Election Commission’s counsel told the bench that bypolls for 15 vacant Assembly seats have been notified and court should not stay the elections. The EC counsel also stressed that the Speaker’s order disqualifying these MLAs cannot deprive them of their right to contest bypolls.

Source: Supreme Court

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