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Governor can make his own bona fide assessment: Sorabjee

J. Venkatesan

"Adjournment of Karnataka Assembly unconstitutional"

New Delhi: Legal experts have described as unconstitutional the decision of the Karnataka Speaker to adjourn sine die the meeting of the Legislature despite a specific agenda of conducting the motion of "vote of confidence" to ascertain whether Chief Minister Dharam Singh enjoyed majority or not.

The former Attorney-General, Soli Sorabjee, said, "Ordinarily the floor test is the method of determining the confidence. But if the floor test is not or cannot be allowed to be held because of exceptional circumstances, then the Governor is not helpless. He can make his own bona fide assessment as to whether the Chief Minister Dharam Singh enjoins the confidence and act accordingly."

Other options

Asked the options available to the Governor, Senior lawyer K.K. Venugopal said, "If the Governor feels that the whole situation is stage managed by the Speaker and Mr. Dharam Singh, then he can straightway call upon Mr. Kumaraswamy to form the government and ask him to prove his majority. On the other hand, if the Governor genuinely feels that the Speaker was unable to conduct the proceedings due to disturbances in the House, then he can give Mr. Singh one more chance to prove his majority on the floor of the House."

Senior advocate P.P. Rao said that the Speaker's action was unconstitutional. "The Governor can ask the Speaker to re-convene the House to put the confidence motion to vote. The Speaker must also ascertain the status of the members of the Janata Dal (Secular) whether they align with the Deve Gowda group of his son Kumaraswamy's group," he said.

When it was pointed out that the Speaker, before adjourning the House, had recognised Mr. Kumaraswamy as the leader of the JD (S) Legislature party, Mr. Rao said, "It is to be seen whether the organisation wing of the party supports the alliance with the BJP. If the Legislature wing acts contrary to the wishes of the organisation wing, the splinter group is liable for disqualification under the new defection law which do not recognise split in the party."

Breakaway

He said the moment a group breaks away from the parent party, the members are deemed to have resigned, thereby losing their seats. According to him it is a tricky situation. If the Deve Gowda group also supports government formation with Bharatiya Janata Party support, only then can Mr. Kumaraswamy and others escape the disqualification. However, he said it would be difficult for the Governor to dismiss the Dharam Singh Government, since he had not faced the confidence vote.

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