Yeddy’s Fate Hinges On His Let­ters To Guv

SC Re­fuses To Stay Swear­ing-In, But Will De­cide On Le­gal­ity After Read­ing Let­ters Of Sup­port

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION - P Chidambaram Dhanan­jay.Ma­ha­p­a­tra@ times­ Singhvi De­va­datta Ka­mat MK Stalin

New Delhi: After a 210-minute hear­ing, from past mid­night till dawn, the Supreme Court on Thurs­day per­mit­ted swear­ing in of Kar­nataka’s new BJP gov­ern­ment led by chief min­is­ter B S Yed­dyu­rappa, but put him in a spot of bother by say­ing it would peruse his let­ters to the gov­er­nor to as­cer­tain the sup­port he en­joyed among MLAs.

The early morn­ing re­lief to BJP, just hours be­fore the oath-tak­ing cer­e­mony in Ben­galuru, could on Fri­day turn into a test of pres­tige, moral­ity, le­gal­ity and con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of gov­er­nor Va­jub­hai Vala’s de­ci­sion to in­vite BJP to form the gov­ern­ment. BJP has 104 MLAs in the House of 222 mem­bers while the Con­gress-JD(S) post-poll al­liance has claimed the sup­port of 116 MLAs.

Around 10.45pm, the SC reg­istry quickly scru­ti­nised the joint pe­ti­tion filed by state Con­gress pres­i­dent G Parameswara and JD(S) chief H D Ku­maraswamy. CJI Di­pak Misra ney gen­eral K K Venu­gopal and ad­di­tional so­lic­i­tor gen­eral Manin­der Singh joined Me­hta min­utes after the court com­menced hear­ing.

Singhvi took one and a half hours to ar­gue the pe­ti­tion­ers’ case and told the court that the gov­er­nor’s “un­con­sti­tu­tional” de­ci­sion to in­vite Yed­dyu­rappa, when he ex­fa­cie lacked ma­jor­ity sup­port in the House, was a sure recipe for BJP to en­gage in horse-trad­ing. “By not invit­ing the Con­gress-JD(S) com­bine led by Ku­maraswamy to form a gov­ern­ment, the gov­er­nor has negated norms and the pu­rity of democ­racy,” Singhvi and ad­vo­cate De­va­datta Ka­mat ar­gued.

Around 4.30am, the bench in­di­cated that it was not in favour of putting an in­junc­tion on the gov­er­nor ad­min­is­ter­ing oath. How­ever, Singhvi ar­gued it was “un­eth­i­cal and un­con­sti­tu­tional” of the gov­er­nor to ig­nore ma­jor­ity sup­port claimed by the post-poll al­liance. The hear­ing went on for an­other hour, with Singhvi con­vinc­ing the bench to seek copies of Yed­dyu­rappa’s let­ters to the gov­er­nor on June 15 and 16 to as­cer­tain whether he had listed sup­port of ma­jor­ity MLAs.

What will worry Yed­dyu­rappa and BJP is the part of the bench’s or­der which said the swear­ing-in was sub­ject to the out­come of Fri­day’s hear­ing. This will mean that if the let­ters did not list the sup­port of ma­jor­ity MLAs, the SC could strike down the gov­er­nor’s de­ci­sion to in­vite Yed­dyu­rappa. Fri­day will de­cide whether Yed­dyu­rappa goes the Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee way when he had to re­sign with­out fac­ing a trust vote in Lok Sabha in 1998.

Singhvi also ques­tioned the 15 days given to Yed­dyu­rappa to prove ma­jor­ity and cited ear­lier in­stances when the SC had cur­tailed the dead­line to pass a floor test to 48 hours. “Invit­ing Yed­dyu­rappa… and then giv­ing BJP 15 days to prove ma­jor­ity on the floor is like adding in­sult to in­jury,” Singhvi said. He added that it was bet­ter to stop the scram­bling of an egg than Supreme Court sat from 2.10 am to 5.35 am on Thurs­day to hear the Con­gress-JD(S) chal­lenge to the swear­ing in of BJP leader B S Yed­dyu­rappa as Kar­nataka CM. An in­tense le­gal bat­tle raged as Con­gress MP and le­gal eagle and (left and ex­treme left) and at­tor­ney gen­eral and former AG right rep­re­sent­ing the Cen­tre and BJP) slugged it out. both sides closely be­fore de­cid­ing to al­low the oath tak­ing | An artist’s im­pres­sion of the court­room

Ab­hishek Manu K K Venu­gopal Mukul Ro­hatgi A bench of S A Bobde, A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan

(on the (from left) ques­tioned at­tempt to un­scram­ble it later.

But Ro­hatgi ques­tioned whether the SC could stop a con­sti­tu­tional post holder from dis­charg­ing his con­sti­tu­tional duty. He said Ar­ti­cle 164 of the Con­sti­tu­tion man­dated the gov­er­nor to ad­min­is­ter oath of of­fice to the CM. “Can the SC ask the gov­er­nor not to ad­min­is­ter oath? The SC can al­ways scru­ti­nise the ac­tion, but can never stop the con­sti­tu­tional post holder from dis­charg­ing his duty. Can the SC to­mor­row ask the Pres­i­dent not to give assent to a bill that has been passed in both Houses of Par­lia­ment? The SC can al­ways ex­am­ine the va­lid­ity of the law after it comes into force but can never stop the Pres­i­dent from giv­ing assent to the bill,” he said.

This con­vinced the court which re­fused to pass any in­terim or­der stopping the gov­er­nor from swear­ing in Yed­dyu­rappa, but Singhvi pre­vailed in mak­ing it a tough test for the new chief min­is­ter on Fri­day when he has to pro­duce the let­ters he wrote to the gov­er­nor.


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