New Delhi: After a four-hour long, post-midnight hearing on a Congress-JD(S) petition, the Supreme Court refused to stay BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurppa’s swearing-in as Karnataka chief minister at 9am today.
The Supreme Court made it clear that the swearing-in and the government formation would be subject to its final order on the Congress-JD(S) petition before it.
A three-judge bench, comprising justices A.K. Sikri, S.A. Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, directed that the letter sent by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala for forming the state government be placed before it. The bench posted the matter for further hearing at 10.30 am Friday, saying it will peruse the letter as it was necessary to decide the matter. It also issued notices to the Karnataka government and Yeddyurappa.
“ We can’t speculate what kind of majority has been claimed until we see the letters”, observed Justice Bobde.
Hours after a notification was issued by Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala inviting Yeddyurappa to be sworn in as chief minister of Karnataka and form the government, the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S), moved the Supreme Court challenging this decision. The notification gave the BJP 15 days to prove majority support on the floor of the assembly.
The Congress then approached the Supreme Court for hearing its petition in the matter, following which the Chief Justice Dipak Mishra-constituted three-judge bench began proceedings at 2.00 am.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Congress-JD(S) alliance appealed the three-judge bench to either defer the swearing-in or quash of the governor’s decision inviting BJP to form the government. He argued that the swearing-in was a purely ministerial, non-statutory and an executive function which could be deferred. “Swearing-in is reversible. What is the great loss caused to another political party if it is deferred?”
Singhvi further relied on the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, which said that in case of no party getting absolute majority, the governor should call upon single largest party before post-poll alliance.
Deferring the swearing-in, however, was seen as an injunction over the powers exercised by the governor by former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi,who appeared for two BJP MLAs representing Yeddyurappa. Rohtagi said that the Supreme Court should not stop a constitutional functionary from discharging his functions. His actions are amenable through judicial review, but an injunction would lead to disturbing Article 361 of the Constitution, he added. He also suggested that the time period for proving majority in the house be reduced from 15 to seven days.
Questions over the urgency in the matter were also raised by Rohatgi from time to time during the hearing, as he said, “ I’m still surprised that this case is being heard. At the last instance when the court assembled for three hours after midnight, a man was about to be hanged.” He criticized the Congress’s decision to file the petition before the floor test. “What is the purpose of stopping this when it’s reversible? Not that permanent damage will be done.”
The centre, in line with Rohatgi’s arguments, submitted that Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in should not be stopped and that the floor test should allowed to take place.
In its petition, the Congress sought quashing of the governor’s invite to Yeddyurappa to form the government, terming it “unconstitutional, arbitrary and illegal”. Such an action is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, it added.
The Karnataka election results declared Tuesday threw up a fractured mandate. The BJP has won 104 seats, the Congress 78 and JD(S) 37. One seat each went to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party and an independent candidate.
The BJP said that it must be invited to form government as it is the single largest party. Yeddyurappa said his party will “form the government 100%”, and accused the Congress of making “unholy attempts” to grab power by offering support to the JD(S).livemint