Karnataka Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar summoned the 12 rebel Congress MLAs who resigned from their Assembly seats for a hearing in response to a notice by their party disqualifying them for defying the whip, an official said on Monday.
"Individual notices were sent to all the 12 Congress rebel MLAs under rule 7 of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly (disqualification of members on ground of defection) Rules 1986," said Speaker's Secretary M.K. Vishalakshmi in a statement here.
The emergent notices, dated July 18, are in response to the complaint on July 11 by Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah and the party's state unit chief Dinesh Gundu Rao for disqualification of the rebels under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, also known as the anti-defection law.
The rebels, however, sought more time to appear before the Speaker as they were in Mumbai after submitting their resignations in the Speaker's office while he was not present in the office on that day (July 6).
On the Supreme Court's directive in response to their July 8 joint petition for its intervention, as the Speaker was not accepting their resignations, the rebels appeared before the latter on July 11 in his office and re-submitted their resignations in a proper format.
The Speaker also informed the rebels that Siddaramaiah had requested him on July 18 to take legal action against them for abstaining from the Assembly session since it was convened on July 12 and defying the party's whip to be present in the House to vote in favour of the confidence motion that Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy moved on July 18.
The rebels, however, maintained that the question of disqualification did not arise, as they had already resigned and the apex court also ruled on July 17 that they cannot be compelled to attend the Assembly for the floor test during the monsoon session.
On the point of order Siddaramaiah raised in the House during the debate on the confidence motion on July 18 that the apex court's interim order had denied the Congress its right to seek disqualification of the rebels for defying its whip under the anti-defection law, the Speaker ruled that the court order did not protect them if they violate the whip under the 10th Schedule.
"The Speaker's ruling has upheld and protected the rights of political parties to fight against undemocratic disturbance orchestrated by BJP leaders," Siddaramaiah tweeted later.
Congress state unit President Dinesh Gundu Rao thanked the Speaker for upholding the sanctity of the whip and its applicability to the rebels in this case.
Congress Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Krishna Byre Gowda said the floor test should be conducted only after the Speaker decided on the party's recommendation to disqualify the rebels.
"Either the rebels' resignations are accepted or rejected or they are disqualified. But if you go ahead with the floor test, I will be a conscientious objector to this process," Gowda told the Speaker.