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
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.
INSIDE COURT NO. 6: