New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Saturday morning hear the Congress-JD (S) combine’s plea challenging Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala's decision to appoint KG Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker to conduct the crucial floor test.
Late on Friday night, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra decided to list the matter before the three-judge bench, headed by Justice A K Sikri, which has been hearing the case. The matter will be heard by the bench, which also comprises Justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhusha, at 10.30 am, much ahead of the trust vote slated at 4 pm.
The Congress-JD(S) plea, was submitted late at night at the Registry and the Registrar of the top court rushed to the residence of the CJI for directions on the listing of the matter.
In the application, the combine has demanded setting aside of the decision to appoint BJP MLA Bopaiah as the pro tem Speaker saying it was contrary to the tradition, as per which the post goes to the senior-most legislator.
It termed the Governor's action as a "brazen unconstitutional" act to appoint "a junior MLA as the pro tem Speaker. The application also seeks certain urgent directions to ensure that the floor test is conducted in a fair and transparent manner."
Pro tem is a Latin phrase which best translates to "for the time being" or temporary. Usually, the senior most member is selected as the pro tem Speaker for purposes, which also include election of the Speaker.
The petition also urged the top court to have video recording of the entire trust vote process and conducting of the floor test through "a division' into separate and segregated lobbies so that the persons in the different lobbies can be counted in a transparent manner."
The petition said "it is submitted that despite the settled parliamentary
convention and practice for appointment of a pro tem Speaker, a junior MLA Shri KG Bopaiah (BJP) with a dubious and controversial record of passing biased disqualification orders has been appointed as the pro tem Speaker.
"As a matter of fact, the conduct of Shri KG Bopaiah has been severely criticised and strictures have been passed against him by this Hon'ble Court. The disqualification orders passed by him were also set aside as being vitiated with mala fides and undue haste in two judgements of this Court."
Alleging "a shocking disregard to binding parliamentary convention and long standing parliamentary practice of appointing the senior most member of the House", the Congress-JD(S) combine said the Governor appointed "a relatively junior member of the House. ... This is in the face of the admitted fact that the senior most MLA is currently serving his 8th tenure but has been overlooked."
The appointment was "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".
The combine alleged that B S Yeddyurappa "in tandem with the Government at the Centre 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."
The Governor's decision to appoint Bopaiah came after the top court ordered holding of floor test in the Karnataka assembly on Saturday for ascertaining the majority or otherwise of the BS Yedyurappa government and for immediate appointment of the pro tem Speaker.
In its order, the apex court has enumerated four steps that have to be followed for holding the floor test, directing the immediate appointment of the pro tem Speaker, holding the oath ceremony for all elected members tomorrow.
This exercise has to be completed before 4 PM when the floor test will be held to ascertain the majority. A bench comprising Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan also ordered that adequate security arrangements shall be made and Director General of Police of Karnataka would himself supervise all arrangements so that there is no lapse on this count whatsoever.