NEW DELHI/BENGALURU, Nov 13 - The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the disqualification of the 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka whose rebellion led to the fall of the Kumaraswamy government and the return of the BJP to power in July but gave some relief by allowing them to contest the upcoming bypolls to 15 Assembly seats.
As the court struck down the portion of the order of the then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar by which the legislators were disqualified till the end of the current term of the state Assembly in 2023, all eyes were on the BJP�s next move on whether it will give tickets to the Congress-JD(S) rebels.
Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwathnarayan said the disqualified MLAs will join the BJP on Thursday in Bengaluru after they expressed interest to be part of the saffron party.
The apex court also said if elected in the bypolls, the disqualified MLAs can become ministers or hold public office.
Observing that constitutional morality should never be replaced by political morality, a three-judge bench of justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari held that the Speaker, in exercise of his powers under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, �does not have the power to either indicate the period for which a person is disqualified, or to bar someone contesting elections�.
The court said there is a growing trend of Speakers acting against the �constitutional duty of being neutral� in addition to political parties indulging in horse trading and corrupt practices due to which citizens are being denied stable governments. Ramesh Kumar is a Congress leader.
The Speaker, being a neutral person, is expected to act independently while conducting the proceedings of the House or adjudication petitions, it said.
The constitutional responsibility endowed upon the Speaker has to be scrupulously followed and his political affiliations cannot come in the way of adjudication, the apex court said, adding, there is a need to consider strengthening certain aspects so that such �undemocratic practices� are discouraged and checked. � PTI