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Congress Leaders Speak in Divergent Voices on SC Verdict in Karnataka Crisis

While Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the party has emerged victorious as 90% of its arguments during the trial was accepted by the top court, Randeep Surjewala said it's a 'terrible precedent'.


Updated:July 17, 2019, 11:21 PM IST
Congress Leaders Speak in Divergent Voices on SC Verdict in Karnataka Crisis
Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Jairam Ramesh and Abhishek Manu Singhvi after a meeting at the Election Commission of India, in New Delhi, Friday, April 5,2019. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Congress leaders Wednesday spoke in divergent voices on the Supreme Court verdict in the Karnataka crisis, with chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala saying it's a "terrible precedent" but his colleague Abhishek Singhvi claiming victory.

The Supreme Court said 15 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka "ought not" to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the Assembly, virtually sounding the death knell for the coalition government headed by HD Kumaraswamy.

The court at the same time gave Assembly Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar the freedom to decide on the resignation of the 15 MLAs within such time-frame as considered appropriate by him.

Addressing the official press briefing, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the party has emerged victorious as 90% of its arguments during the trial was accepted by the top court.

"We are happy as a political party that we have emerged victorious," Singhvi, also a senior lawyer who appeared for the Karnataka Assembly Speaker in the case, told reporters outside Parliament.

"I welcome the Supreme Court to have given a decision as per the Constitution and law," he said accusing the BJP of "spreading misinformation and false propaganda".

"Ninety per cent of the case argued says the speaker should decide in x number of days. Honourable court says we should not fetter the Speaker in any case. The SC has said the Speaker can decide what he likes when he likes and hence the Speaker will decide. Where is the question of acting on a whip which has not been issued yet?" he asked.

His colleague and the party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, however, gave divergent views.

"SC's order nullifying the whip & by extension, operation of Constitution's Xth Schedule to punish MLAs betraying the public mandate, set a terrible judicial precedent!"

"Tragic that SC didn't appreciate the context and designed history of defections to subvert democratic mandates by the Modi Government over the last 5 years. SC should recall own judgement of May 2016 striking down the illegal attempt of BJP in Uttarakhand to form the government," Surjewala tweeted.

"Blanket protection to MLAs, who are driven not by ideology but by far baser concerns, is unheard-of," he said.

He also wondered whether the verdict means the court can interfere with the working of the state legislature by deciding when a whip will be enforced and whether the basic structure doctrine of separation of powers had been abandoned.

Singhvi separately said that on the basis of these petitions, the Speaker can accept or reject the resignation within his jurisdiction. "The decision will be entirely of the Speaker, in which the court refused to intervene."

"If more people resign, the government should go, that's how democracy works. There has been a misinformation campaign by the BJP in the last couple of weeks. Speaker will now be the master of the proceedings. He will decide as per his discretion," he said.

Singhvi said the false propaganda about the decision shows how the decision has gone against the opposition in Karnataka and claimed that claims of BJP leader YS Yeddyurappa over government formation would remain "a dream".

"I wonder which victory is Mr Yeddyurappa celebrating," he said.

The Congress leader said the contention made by the Congress was that the court has no jurisdiction in the functioning of the legislature and the court has agreed to it.

"The Court referred to Article 190 and Rule 202, which was our stand," he said.

Singhvi said the court has specifically said that no fetters can be there on the Speaker and the direction is irrelevant to what the Speaker decides on the resignations as he will be the master of the proceedings in the house.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the Karnataka Assembly Speaker's discretion in deciding on the MLAs' resignations should not be fettered by the court's directions or observations and he should be left free to decide the issue.

The Karnataka state unit of the Congress has termed the Supreme Court order as "bad judgment", which seemed to protect the defectors and encourage horse-trading.

In a series of tweets, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao termed it an "extraordinary order".

"Supreme Court order seems perfectly coordinated to help the rebel MLAs to violate the whip. It has set a wrong precedent as the value of the Whip as per the 10th schedule of the Constitution is now redundant. An extraordinary order indeed!!!," Rao tweeted.

"The #SupremeCourt verdict is now encroaching upon the rights of the Legislature. This is a bad judgement which seems to protect the defectors and encourages horse-trading and also violating the doctrine of separation of powers," he said in another tweet.

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