New Delhi, May 19: The Supreme Court on Saturday rejected Congress-JD(S) plea challenging appointment of KG Bopaiah as pro tem speaker for crucial floor test in Karnataka Assembly scheduled at 4 PM today. In its order, the apex court ruled that Bopaiah will continue to be the pro tem speaker while saying that live broadcast of floor test would be the best way to ensure transparency of proceedings. (LIVE UPDATES ON KARNATAKA POLITICAL ROW) Also Read - 3 Local BJP Leaders Killed by Militants in Kashmir’s Kulgam, Resistance Front Claims Responsibility
During the hearing, a three-judge bench, headed by Justice AK Sikri and comprising Justices SA Bobde and Ashok Bhusha, said, “Law can’t direct the Governor to appoint a particular person as Pro-tem Speaker. Unless convention becomes legal norm, it can’t be enforced by Court.” (ALSO READ – Wait Till 4:30 PM, Yeddyurappa Will Become Karnataka CM For 5 Years, Says BJP Ahead of Floor Test) Also Read - Former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel Passes Away at 92, PM Modi Mourns His Death
Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal appeared for the Congress -JD(S) combine whereas, AG KK Venugopal and ASG Tushar Mehta along with senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi defended the appointment of Pro tem speaker. Also Read - Vanathi Srinivasan Appointed BJP Women's Wing President
As the hearing on the plea began, Congress-JD(S) lawyer Kapil Sibal said, “He (KG Bopaiah) is the person against whom there have been orders by this court itself. He is a junior member. This creates inconsistency.”
“The individual appointed must be the senior most member of the House which is a convention in the Parliament also,” he added while listing out all the pro tem speakers appointed in Lok Sabha. “I am requesting that don’t allow KG Bopaiah to take the floor test,” Sibal said.
Meanwhile, Justice SA Bobde contradiction Sibal’s arguments and said, “There’ve been instances where senior most MLA wasn’t appointed as Pro tem speaker.”
“We can’t pass an order against Bopaiah without hearing him. You are in a zone of contradiction. You want to militate against the pro-tem speaker but not willing to give him time to respond. We will hear you but then floor test will have to be delayed,” the top court said.
Welcoming the SC order, Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Most important objective was to establish transparency. Since the statement has come from ASG that live feed of proceedings would be given, we hope & trust there would be fairness. I have no doubt that the victory would be of Congress & JD(S).”
On the other hand, Mukul Rohatgi slammed the Congress and said, “The SC heard the pleas of the Congress, all their pleas have been rejected. The desperate attempts of Congress to remove him from post has failed. I think they are scared & did not even want a floor test in the first place.”
On Friday, the Congress-JD (S) combine moved the Supreme Court challenging Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to appoint KG Bopaiah as the pro tem speaker. 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.
Terming the Governor’s action of appointing “a junior MLA as the pro tem speaker as a “brazen unconstitutional” act, the application sought certain urgent directions to ensure that the floor test is conducted in a fair and transparent manner.
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 governor’s decision to appoint Bopaiah came after the top court ordered holding of floor test in the Karnataka assembly.