SC upholds disqualification of 17 rebel Karnataka MLAs

The Supreme Court upheld an order by former Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R Ramesh Kumar disqualifying 17 Karnataka MLAs in July.

Though the top court upheld the disqualification of the MLAs from Congress and JD(S), the term of the disqualification was struck down. The order, therefore, allows all the disqualified MLAs to contest in the upcoming by-polls.

The former speaker had said in his order that the MLAs cannot contest elections until the term of the current assembly ends in 2023.

"We are of the opinion that scope of duty under Article 193 has been discussed, Not making nay observation regarding the merits of disqualification. As such, there is no doubt that disqualification relates to date when act takes place. The speaker in the exercise of powers does not have the power to indicate the period for which a person is barred from contesting an election," the three-judge bench of SC said in its verdict.

"We uphold the order of speaker of disqualification. But strike out the period of disqualification," it added.

The top court also said that the speaker acts as a "quasi-judicial authority" and that the scope of the assembly speaker's inquiry is limited to examine whether the resignation of MLAs was voluntary or not.

(with news agency inputs)