SC sets preconditions for floor test; Karnataka Governor responds by appointing RSS man as pro-tem Speaker

Following one of the preconditions set by the apex court to conduct the floor test, Governor Vajubhai Vala today appointed KG Bopaiah as the pro-tem speaker; this appointment had to be made before 4 PM tomorrow; Bopaiah is an old RSS hand

Supreme Court floor test

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday gave clear-cut four-step instructions for holding the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly tomorrow for ascertaining the majority or otherwise of the BS Yeddyurappa’s government in the State.

In its order, the apex court enumerated the 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 ordered that adequate and sufficient security arrangements shall be made and Director General of Police, Karnataka, will himself supervise all arrangements so that there is no lapse on this count whatsoever.

The bench also noted the statement by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Chief Minister, that since the floor test would be held tomorrow at 4 PM, Yeddyurappa shall not take any policy decision till it is concluded.

It recorded that in compliance with the 17 May order, Rohatgi has produced the copies of 15 May and 16 May letters which were addressed by Yeddyurappa to the Governor of Karnataka.

The bench noted that in the 16 May letter, it is claimed that Yeddyurappa’s party was the single largest party which also had the support of others and the requisite majority.

On that basis, the request was made to the Governor to invite him to form the Government, it noted.

The court also took on record the submissions of senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Congress-JD(S) combine, that the Governor could not have invited Yeddyurappa to form the government on the basis of such letters.

Their contentions were refuted by Rohatgi, the order noted, adding that “In a matter like this, detailed hearing is required in order to decide as to whether the action of the governor in inviting Yeddyurappa to form the Government was valid in law or not.”

“Since it may consume substantial time and the final decision cannot be given immediately, we deem it proper that floor test to ascertain the majority of one or the other group is conducted immediately and without any delay,” the order said.

The order also took on record the 16 May letter of the Governor inviting Yeddyurappa to form the government by giving him 15 days to prove majority on the floor of the House.

However, the bench said, “Having regard to all the circumstances of this case, we are of the view that such a floor test be conducted tomorrow itself, that is on 19 May 2018.”

Before concluding, the bench granted six weeks’ time to the BJP and its leaders to file counter affidavit and, thereafter, the petitioners on behalf of Congress-JD(S) combine will file rejoinder affidavit in four weeks.

Karnataka Assembly House

Swayamsevak made pro-tem Speaker

Governor Vajubhai Vala today appointed KG Bopaiah as the pro-tem speaker of the Karnataka Assembly for administering the oath to newly elected MLAs and conducting the Supreme Court-ordered floor test tomorrow, a decision denounced by the INC.

Bopaiah, an RSS swayamsevak, was administered the oath as pro-tem speaker by Vala. Bopaiah was the speaker of the Assembly between 2009 and 2013.

Considered close to Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, Bopaiah had disqualified 11 disgruntled BJP and five independent MLAs ahead of a trust vote to help the Yeddyurappa government in 2011. The decision was upheld by the Karnataka High Court but overturned by the Supreme Court, which said Bopaiah had acted in haste.

“Shocking decision by the Hon’ble Governor. Constitutional convention says the seniormost, in this case, RV Deshpande should have been named. Also, Supreme Court had passed structures (sic) against the conduct of KG Bopiah as Speaker. Sad to see Vajubhai Valaji behaving like an agent of BJP,” senior INC leader Dinesh Gundu Rao said, reacting sharply to Bopaiah’s appointment.

Usually, the senior-most member of the Assembly is appointed the pro-tem speaker to administer the oath to newly elected MLAs. RV Deshpande of the INC is the senior-most in the new House.