No intervention: Supreme Court
- Refuses proposal to produce MLAs in judges chamber
- MP Speaker to decide on resignations of rebel MLAs
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday did not agree to the proposal of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that the 16 rebel Congress MLAs be produced in the court on Thursday and said it wanted to "allay the apprehension" that they are held captive.
Observing that the MLAs may or may not go to the Assembly but they cannot be held captive, a bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said it was not going to come in the way of the legislature to decide as to who enjoys the trust but has to ensure that there is a free exercise of choice which these 16 MLAs can make.
"It is their choice whether they want to enter, comply with whips etc. But certainly, when allegation is that they are being held in captivity, we have to see they are at free will. These 16 either proceed to the floor or don't but surely they can't be held captive and how do we ensure this," the bench asked. When the counsel for Chouhan and the rebel MLAs asserted that they are in Bengaluru at their own free will, the bench said, "We are not saying they are held captive. Our concern is to ally the apprehension."
At the fag end of the hearing, the bench put a poser to the Speaker as to whether he will decide on the resignations of MLAs if they appear before him tomorrow and observed, "a latest judgement asks the Speaker to decide quickly. Tell us when will you decide". To this, senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the speaker, said: "I don't want the Speaker's discretion to be curtailed. I can inform about it tomorrow morning." Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for the 16 rebel MLAs, intervened: "We do not want to appear before the Speaker. It is a question of our safety." The court would resume hearing on Thursday at 10.30 AM.
The bench declined the offer of the rebel Congress MLAs and of Chouhan that either they be allowed to appear in the court or the Registrar General of the Karnataka HC be allowed to meet them to ensure that they are not captive. "As a constitutional court, we have to discharge our duties," said the bench, adding, as of now it knows that the 16 rebel MLAs in Madhya Pradesh tilt the balance one way or the other. The court asked lawyers to assist it on modalities for ensuring free access to the Assembly and choice. The bench was hearing cross petitions filed by Chouhan and the Congress on the ongoing political crisis in the state after 22 rebel MLAs of the ruling combine purportedly offered to resign.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Chouhan, offered to produce all the 16 rebel MLAs in the judges' chamber, which the court denied. He also said that as an alternative, Registrar General of Karnataka High Court could go and meet the rebel MLAs on Thursday and video record everything.