New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Amid the ongoing political upheaval in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to accept the offer of the 16 rebel Congress MLAs to meet them terming it inappropriate, and also refused to send the Registrar General of the Karnataka High Court to meet them.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the BJP, contended before the apex court that it could ask the Registrar General of the Karnataka High Court to meet the MLAs under the direction of the court. Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the rebel MLAs, said MLAs are willing to appear before the Supreme Court.
A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justice Hemant Gupta, turning down the offer to meet the MLAs, saying: “We see the reason why you are saying that, but it would not be appropriate.”
The apex court also refused to allocate any judicial officer to meet the MLAs.
“We do not want to send our judicial officer into all this. The court is an institution. They will be exposed to unnecessary criticism,” it said.
Rohatgi responded: “I am saying make it (the meeting) live! Whether it is MLAs meeting the Registrar General of the Karnataka High Court or someone else, make it live.”
Justice Chandrachud reiterated the court wants to ensure these 16 MLAs are free to leave and free to travel anywhere. The top court has deferred the hearing on the matter for 10.30 a.m. on Thursday.
In the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Chief Minister Kamal Nath, said that they (the rebels) are of the Congress and he (Nath) wants to meet them.
Singh contested this argument saying the MLAs do not want to meet the CM and Justice Chandrachud told Sibal: “There is a problem with your plea for access; this is not custody of a child.”
Noting a recent apex court judgement asked the Speaker to decide quickly, the bench asked: “Tell us when you will decide.”
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing MP Assembly Speaker N.P. Prajapati, said he could not curtail the discretion of the Speaker, and can get back on Thursday morning.
Justice Chandrachud asked Singhvi that if MLAs appear before the Speaker and make a statement one way or the other, will the Speaker take a decision? “How does the Constitution decide on the genuineness of the resignation?” the court said.
As Singhvi said that the MLAs are not willing to appear before the Speaker, the bench said: “Tell us when will you decide?”
Singhvi insisted the due process has to be followed, which would consume a few days, as due to coronavirus scare, the Assembly is adjourned till March 26.
Justice Gupta said the Speaker could reject the resignation of the MLAs. “Who stops you (from rejecting the resignation of the MLAs). You had budget session on March 16, you (government) postponed the Budget session, and how will the state function?”
As Singhvi replied six state Assemblies have been adjourned due to coronavirus scare, the judge noted that the members met that day (Monday).
As the top court emphasized that it is concerned about horse trading, Singhvi replied that they (rebel MLAs) are already in captivity. Rohatgi opposed these arguments claiming that the Speaker cannot talk like a representative of a political party.
Detailing on the conspiracy behind the resignation, Sibak said all resignation letters were mirror images, there were three writers for 19 signatories, and these resignation letters were carried to the Speaker by a BJP member. “Till date they have not resigned from the party,” he said.