Justice V G Sabhahit, to whom the matter was referred after a split verdict by a division bench, today gave his verdict in which he concurred with Chief Justice J S Khehar, who had upheld Speaker K G Bopaiah’s October 10 disqualification order.
Justice N Kumar, part of the division bench, had differed with Chief Justice and set aside the disqualification order.
Today’s order may obviate the need for any fresh vote of confidence in the Assembly as the court had earlier ruled before the second confidence vote this month that its outcome would depend on the verdict on the petitions of the 16 disqualified MLAs, including 5 Independents.
The question of another floor test may arise only if the Supreme Court reverses the verdict of the High Court on any petition the dissident MLAs may file.
In his 126-page order, Justice Sabhahit said the Oct 6 letter of 11 MLAs to Governor H R Bhardwaj withdrawing support to the BJP government would lead to the inevitable inference that their intention was to voluntarily give up party membership.
“The Speaker’s order is in consonance with provisions of Para 2(1)(a) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution”, he said concurring with the opinion expressed by the Chief Justice.
The judge observed that it is clear that though the petitioners had incurred disqualification on Oct six, the decision is ex post facto and the Speaker is entitled to take into account the material produced before him, which is not disputed by the legislators against whom action was sought to be taken.
“The writ petitions may be placed before the Division Bench for passing the final order”, Justice Sabhahit said.
Shortly after the verdict was delivered, counsel for rebel MLAs said they would challenge the order before the Supreme Court, while ruling party leaders welcomed it as a “triumph for truth”.
“This is an epoch making verdict and a major step towards eradicating the menace of defection in the country,” a relieved Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said, adding “this order has come as a warning bell to those who indulge in defection”.
BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said the verdict would act as a deterrent for all political defectors across the country and ruled out taking back the rebels, whom he described as “traitors”.
Former Chief Minister and JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy, who had spearheaded the rebellion in BJP by taking the rebel MLAs out of the state earlier this month, expressed his continued support to them in what he described as “their fight against corrupt BJP government”.