After an overnight hearing, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice AK Sikri has indicated that it won’t stay BS Yedyurappa’s swearing-in ceremony. The Supreme Court is hearing a petition filed by the Congress and the JD(S) challenging Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to invite the BJP to form the government in the southern state despite their post-poll alliance having enough MLAs to form a majority. The joint petition by the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) sought a stay on the oath-taking ceremony, as communicated by the governor to the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate B S Yeddyurappa. Congress’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi is arguing on behalf of the Congress-JDS alliance, while former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the BJP and Yeddyurappa. Attorney General KK Venugopal and ASG Tushar Mehta appeared on behalf of the central government. Apart from the stay, another point of contention in the plea was the 15-day window given to the BJP to prove its majority in a floor test.
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04:40 (IST)It is still not over for Congress and JDS. With Abhishek Manu Singhvi persisting, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the arguments further. Mukul Rohatgi resumes his submissions.
"It is necessary to peruse letters dated 15th and 16th May between the #Governor and #BSYeddyurappa. This Court isn't staying in swearing in but this will be subject to outcome of the petition," says SC & fixes hearing tomorrow at 10.30 AM. @News18Courtroom https://t.co/9Iryo8IdZm
— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) May 17, 2018
04:33 (IST)”What will happen if the court waits till 4:30 pm tomorrow for swearing in? Let him (Yeddyurappa) bring the letter (which talks of majority support to BJP), if he is right, he gets what he wants but if we are right… this court can decide,” pleads Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
04:21 (IST)Supreme Court has said that they do not intend to stay the swearing in of BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa. The Karnataka CM candidate is set to be sworn in at 9 am in Bengaluru today. “We will issue notices to all the parties and say swearing in will be subject to the outcome of the petition,” says SC. The case will be heard later and formation of government will depend on court’s final decision. There has been no decision on the 15-day time given to the Yeddyurappa to muster up the numbers.
04:18 (IST)CNN-News18 Legal Editor Utkarsh Anand reporting from inside the Supreme Court.
“I am not asking for adjourning the petition by Congress & JD(S). I am saying dismiss the petition. Governor can’t be restrained from performing his constitutional function by an interim order. SC may reverse the order and hold it bad but it can’t be injuncted. You cannot call a Governor to court. You can’t ask him to file an affidavit or appear in court. The Centre has to defend him because he cannot defend himself. In this country, there is no authority whose order can’t be challenged. A Governor will be a Badshah if his actions can’t be challenged. I am saying his actions are amenable but he can’t be stopped,” argues Mukul Rohatgi.
03:59 (IST)”Curtailing 15 days to 7-10 days for the floor test didn’t have to be debated today and certainly not at 4 am,” said Mukul Rohatgi. To which Justice Bobde retorted, “What can be done tomorrow, we can do today as well. It has nothing to do with 4 am.”
03:52 (IST)”When the other side has given a letter of support signed by the members from Congress and JD(S), on what basis the BJP can say it has the majority? Arithmetic defies how this can happen,” Supreme Court asks Attorney General KK Venugopal. The apex court also questioned why 15 days was needed for the same. Court adds it is examining the actions of the Governor and not the Governor himself. AG, representing the Central government, opposes any stay of oath taking ceremony. Says floor test will prove everything.
03:49 (IST)”Anti-defection law would come into force only after the MLAs are sworn in,” said KK Venugopal. To this, Justice Sikri said, “Does that mean all the suitcase exchange is possible before they are sworn in? That’s impermissible.” Justice Bobde asked if a floor test can be held after swearing in just the MLAs. KK Venugopal said that it would be highly unorthodox.
03:41 (IST)”Are heavens falling? I got a call while I was asleep. Some two MLAs saw it on TV and called me. Is this a Yakub Memon-type situation? It should have never been heard at midnight,” said senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi.
03:38 (IST)Abhishek Manu Singhvi has concluded his arguments in the Congress-JD(S) petition after around 90 minutes. Attorney General KK Venugopal has commenced his submissions, saying the whole case is based upon speculations. Meanwhile, Justice Bobde has said, “We do not know what kind of majority BS Yeddyurappa has claimed. Unless we see that letter of support, we cannot speculate.”
03:34 (IST)Singhvi’s asking for a stay on governor’s orders, advancing of the floor test and deferring of Yeddyurappa’s swearing in. A floor test cannot be done without swearing in.
03:25 (IST)Singhvi concluding his arguments: If your lordships conscience is satisfied, defer the swearing in. That is not even staying the Governor’s actions.
03:07 (IST)Singhvi now arguing on the extent of immunity of the Governor. Former Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi has argued that Governor’s decision’s can’t be challenged in court. Singhvi says Article 361 is immunity from prosecution, not entirely from judicial review. Governor’s exercise of discretionary power can be challenged in court, he claims.
03:00 (IST)SC Bench: You want us to scrutinise the discretion of the Governor but how do we decide this now? You don’t even have the letter given to the Governor (by the BJP) based on which he has called upon the other side to form the government.
02:59 (IST)Two judges on the bench point out that Supreme Court has accepted Sarkaria Commission recommendations in Arunachal Pradesh verdict. The commission said that in case of no party gets an absolute majority, the Governor should invite the single largest party before post-poll alliance.
02:55 (IST)Singhvi now cites examples of states where majority coalitions formed after the elections were given preference over the single largest party – Meghalaya, Manipur, Goa, Delhi, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir. He says that in Delhi, BJP was the largest party but AAP and Congress were called to form the government, while in J&K, National Conference was the single largest party but PDP and BJP formed the government.
02:51 (IST)The scene outside the Supreme Court as hearing continues inside.
02:48 (IST)When Justice Bobde asked if the SC staying the Governor’s action would create a vaccum in the state. To this, Singhvi said that a caretaker government was in place and even if the swearing in takes place a few days later, the caretaker government will continue till then.
02:38 (IST)”It is unheard of to give 15 days for a floor test. Elementary common sense would say that a 104-seat party being called ahead of 116-seat party and then giving them 15 days is adding insult to injury. It is unlikely that their (BJP’s) letter won’t state they have the support of more MLAs, including independents,” said Singhvi. To this, the SC asked why the Congress also cannot claim the support of independents.
02:35 (IST)”I may not form the government. I may fail to show numbers but not calling me to form the government in wrong. The governor cannot call someone else even when I have the numbers. In Jharkhand (Anil Kumar v UIO), Goa (Kavlekar v UOI) and UP (Jagdambika Pal v UIO) the court has preponed the floor test. There’s no reason to not do it now. We don’t have the letter BS Yeddyurappa wrote to the Governor but we have it on good knowledge that he has sought 7 days to prove majority,” says Abhishek Singhvi in Supreme Court.
02:28 (IST)”The governor’s discretion can’t be unreasonable, whimsical and fallacious. It is the biggest license to poaching if the Governor gives 15 days to prove majority. The Congress have the support of 117 MLAs, BJP has only 104 MLAs. 104 will become 111 in these 15 days only by one method,” said Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
02:18 (IST)Congress’ lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi begun his arguments by saying that the governor has completely dispensed with the constitutional norm. Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi countered by saying the Court can’t issue an injunction against the Governor. Singhvi said that HD Kumaraswamy staked his claim on forming the government with support from Congress MLAs, taking the alliance’s number to 116. “Calling upon the single largest party is at the end of the line when it comes to discretion of the governor,” said Singhvi.
02:11 (IST)Petition submits that the action of the governor in this particular case to take a detour from the well-settled Constitutional convention, as also the SC judgment in the ‘Chandrakant Kavlekar vs Union of India’, is ex-unconstitutional, arbitrary.
02:07 (IST)Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Congress and JD(S), Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta for Union government and former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi for BJP, in hearing of the petition filed by Cong & JD(S) challenging Karnataka Governor’s decision.
02:06 (IST)SC Begins Hearing | Three-judge Supreme Court bench begins hearing the Congress-JDS joint petition against Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s invitation to BS Yeddyurappa to form the government.