THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 16 November 2019 (Disqualified, yet qualified: On Karnataka rebel MLAs (The Hindu))

Disqualified, yet qualified: On Karnataka rebel MLAs (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Anti defection law
Mains level: RPA Act


  •  Even while upholding the Karnataka Speaker’s orders disqualifying 17 defectors this year, the Supreme Court has allowed the former legislators to contest the by-elections to Assembly seats.

Karnataka scene:

  •  Most of them had tried to resign from their respective parties in July. It was seen as a ploy to bring down the JD(S)-Congress regime of H.D. Kumaraswamy.
  •  The suspicion was that they would get ministerial positions as soon as BJP formed a BJP government. The then Speaker kept them at bay for days by refusing to act on their resignations.
  •  Ultimately, he disqualified all of them and said the disqualification would go on till 2023 — the end of the current Assembly’s term.
  •  The Speaker’s stance was quite controversial as it created a conflict between resignation and disqualification.
  •  Now, his argument that resignation could not be an excuse to evade a disqualification has been accepted.
  •  The Speaker was also hoping to keep the defectors out of any alternative regime as members disqualified for defection are barred from becoming ministers until they get re-elected.

Welcome move

  •  The court’s exposition of the law relating to the interplay between resignation and defection is quite welcome.
  •  On the one hand, resignation does not take away the effect of a prior act that amounts to disqualification.
  •  On the other, Speakers are not given a free pass to sit on resignation letters indefinitely. Under Article 190(3), a provision under which the Speaker has to ascertain the “voluntary” and “genuine” nature of a resignation before accepting it, the court is clear that it is a limited inquiry, only to see if the letter is authentic and if the intent to quit is based on free will.
  •  “Once it is demonstrated that a member is willing to resign out of his free will, the Speaker has no option but to accept the resignation,” the court has said.

Way forward

  •  This effectively ends the argument that the Speaker is empowered to consider the motives and circumstances whenever a resignation is submitted.
  •  The verdict bemoans the fact that Speakers sometimes tend not to be neutral, and that change of loyalty for the lure of office continues despite the anti-defection law.
  •  Identifying its weak aspects and strengthening the law may be the answer.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q1. With reference to the Danakil Depression, consider the following statements:
1. It is in northeastern South Africa is one of the world’s hottest places, as well as one of its lowest, at 100 metres below sea level.
2. All the water entering Danakil evaporates, and no streams flow out from its extreme environment.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 only
C. Both 1 and 2
D. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: B
Mains Questions:
Q1. In Karnataka MLAs’ case, how SC clarifies law on interplay between resignation, disqualification?