Bengaluru, September 26: The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it will defer the by-polls in the 15 seats of Karnataka as the hearing of the petitions challenging the disqualification of MLAs remains pending. The Supreme Court will now hear the matter on October 22. The by-elections in Karnataka were to take place along with the one-phase assembly election of Maharashtra and Haryana on October 21. On Wednesday, Karnataka assembly speaker had asked the Supreme Court to set up guidelines for dealing with such matters like the disqualification of 17 MLAs in the state. Supreme Court Hears Plea by Karnataka's Disqualified MLAs Seeking Deferment of Bypolls, Asks EC to Respond.
The disqualified Karnataka Assembly MLAs had moved the Apex Court seeking an interim order or direction to allow them permission to contest in the bypolls that were scheduled for October 21. Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for Karnataka Speaker’s office, told the Court that it should lay down guidelines for the speaker to deal with such situations. Bypolls in 15 Karnataka Seats to Decide Fate of BS Yediyurappa-Led Nascent BJP Government.
The speaker told the court that it is not taking any sides in the plea pertaining to the disqualification of the MLAs by his predecessor and plead the court to adjudicate and frame some guidelines for the speaker to deal such instances.
On Monday, the Election Commission (EC) had told the court that the former MLAs can contest the bypolls despite them being disqualified from the assembly. "Elections should not be stayed. The state Speaker can disqualify but can’t deprive the ex-MLAs of contesting the elections,” the commission had stated.
In July, the 17 MLAs were disqualified by then speaker KR Ramesh Kumar. These MLAs were barred from contesting polls for the duration of the assembly, which ends in 2023. The decision had led to the fall of the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in the state headed by the then chief minister HD Kumaraswamy.