New Delhi: Live-streaming of the Karnataka floor test is the best way to ensure transparent proceedings, the Supreme Court said today, rejecting a Congress petition to remove BJP’s KG Bopaiah as interim speaker for Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa’s trust vote.
The Congress had asked the Supreme Court on Friday evening to cancel Mr Bopaiah’s appointment by Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala. The party today raised questions in court about fairness in the trust vote under Mr Bopaiah, given his dubious track record of helping Mr Yeddyurappa survive a floor test in 2010.
“Just giving oath is fine but if Mr Bopaiah has to supervise trust votes, it’s a problem,” senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.
The Congress also argued that he is not the senior most lawmaker in the house. The court said there had been instances in the past when the pro tem speaker was not the senior most.
On Mr Sibal’s argument on Mr Bopaiah’s past record, the court replied: “If you (Sibal) are casting aspersions on pro tem speaker then we will have to issue notice to him and postpone the floor test.”
The court termed as “fair” the suggestion of Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala’s lawyer that the floor test be telecast live.
Mr Yeddyurappa’s trust vote will take place at 4 pm today, two days after he took charge in controversial circumstances. On a Congress petition challenging his appointment and alleging attempts by the BJP to engineer defections, the Supreme Court yesterday gave him just one more day to prove his majority, instead of 15 days.
Mr Bopaiah, 62, had been key to the survival of Mr Yeddyurappa’s government in a 2010 floor test. He had disqualified five independent and 11 BJP lawmakers who rebelled against Mr Yeddyurappa after he was charged in a mining scam, bringing down the strength and therefore, the target majority mark.
The decision was cancelled by the Supreme Court, which concluded that he hadn’t been fair. The court had also passed strictures against the speaker for “ignoring constitutional norms” and “acting in contravention of the basic principles that go hand-in-hand with the concept of a fair hearing”.
Mr Bopaiah was also pro-tem speaker in 2008, when the Yeddyurappa government fell short of a majority and had to depend on five independents to scrape through the trust vote.
The Congress says that its lawmaker RV Deshpande, an eight-time lawmaker, is senior most in the Karnataka assembly and so, was more qualified to be interim speaker.