MLC Vishwanath can’t become Minister, rules Karnataka HC
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MLC Vishwanath can’t become Minister, rules Karnataka HC

December 1, 2020

Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Monday held that Member of Legislative Council (MLC) A.H. Vishwanath attracted disqualification under Articles 164 (1) (b) and 361 (B) of the Constitution, and therefore, cannot be inducted into the Council of Ministers.

However, the Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty, added that no interim order can be passed in the cases of two other MLCs — R. Shankar and M.T.B. Nagaraj — as prima facie, it was not established that they have incurred disqualification under Articles 164 (1) (b) and 361 (B).

With respect to Vishwanath, the order passed by the Division Bench reads, “Thus, ex-facie disqualification of AH Vishwanath will continue till expiry of term of Karnataka Legislative Assembly.”

The Court ruled that Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa will have to take into consideration the issue of disqualification incurred by Vishwanath, while making his recommendation to the Governor on nominating Ministers. Similarly, even if a recommendation is made by the CM, the Governor is bound to consider the aspect of disqualification incurred by Vishwanath, added the Bench. The Bench passed the interim order in a batch of pleas challenging the induction of three Members of the State Legislative Council (MLCs) — R. Shankar, A.H. Vishwanath, and M.T.B. Nagaraj — into the Council of Ministers.

One of the petitioners, advocate A.S. Harish, had approached the High Court alleging that the three MLCs were given entry into the Legislative Council of Karnataka with the sole purpose of inducting them into the Council of Ministers, even though Vishwanath and Nagaraj had lost in the by-elections in their respective Assembly constituencies after their disqualification. Moreover, Shankar did not even contest in the Assembly election, the petitioner had submitted.

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The three MLCs were part of the 17 MLAs who had resigned from the House in 2019 and effected the fall of the Congress-JD(S) Government.

Shankar belonged to Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party, Nagaraj to the Congress party, and Vishwanath to the JD(S).

After the then Speaker of the House had disqualified them, the Supreme Court later upheld the disqualification, but allowed them to contest in the by-polls.

Though the BJP won 12 out of 15 seats in the by-polls, Vishwanath and Nagaraj were among those from the BJP camp who lost. During the hearing of the matter, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, argued that electing or nominating disqualified candidates to the Legislative Council amounts to “back-door entry”.

The petitioner had contended that the nomination of the three to the Upper House in the State was done with the intention of inducting them into the Cabinet, and the same was contrary to Articles 164 (1) (b) and 361 (B) of the Constitution.

To move SC

Meanwhile, Vishwanath told media in Bengaluru this morning that he will question the verdict of High Court in Supreme Court. 

Indirectly attacking State BJP leaders, the MLC wanted to know why his name was deleted from the biennial election to the State Legislative Council from the State Legislative Assembly in the last minute. They should have sent his name to the Council Poll along with two others, M.T.B. Nagaraj and R. Shankar.

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