Sibal said that senior counsel Dwivedi appearing for the poll panel was expressing views on an issue beyond its scope.
New Delhi: The Election Commission on Monday opposed the plea by 17 disqualified Karnataka Assembly legislators seeking a stay on the election to the Assembly constituencies that fell vacant after they were unseated by the then Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar.
Seventeen rebel MLAs were disqualified by the then Speaker Ramesh Kumar for defying whip and not participating during voting on confidence motion moved by the then chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.
Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi told a bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna and Krishna Murari that in either case — be it their disqualification or acceptance of resignations which they had submitted earlier — the elections have to take place, thus it could not be stayed as sought by the former legislators.
However, what triggered protest by senior counsel Kapil Sibal was Mr Dwivedi telling the court that the disqualified legislators could not be prevented from contesting elections for which byelections were announced on September 21.
Mr Sibal said that senior counsel Dwivedi appearing for the poll panel was expressing views on an issue beyond its scope. However, Mr Dwivedi said that he was saying so as an officer of the court. Every lawyer is considered to be an officer of the court.
The 17 MLAs, including Shrimsanth Balasaheb Patil, Ramesh L. Jarkiholi, Pratap Gouda Patil, A.H. Vishwanath, R. Shankar, Anand Singh, N. Nagaraju MTB and Roshan Baig, had moved the top court seeking the quashing of the then Speaker Ramesh Kumar’s decision rejecting their resignations and unseating them from the membership of the state Assembly for the rest of its term.
However, after the Election Commission announced byelection to these 17 vacant Assembly seats, the disqualified legislators, in a fresh plea, sought either a stay on the elections set into motion of by the poll panel on September 21 or alternately a stay on the Speaker’s order disqualifying them for rest of the term of the present state Assembly that expires in 2023.
Appearing for the petitioner disqualified MLAs, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said that the resignation of the now disqualified MLAs was prior in time to the complaint seeking their disqualification for defying the whip during confidence motion. He said that the complaint seeking their disqualification could not supersede their resignations submitted earlier.