SC: Karnataka Floor Test To Be Telecast Live At 4 PM Today
May 19th, 2018
Hon’ble Supreme Court has given the green light for the Karnataka Floor Test. Today, the plea hearing started at 10.30 am and merely after an hour, the apex court stated its order. Addressing the issues raised by the JDS-Congress representatives, the SC said that the ‘floor test’ will take place at 4 pm today, and to ensure transparency, it will be live-telecast.
Security has been increased in all major towns and in the Assembly, itself. At least, two tapes have surfaced in the last day which allegedly contains bribe offers by BJP representatives. News of absconding INC MLA has also been received. The events surrounding the coveted throne of Karnataka, have disintegrated the discourse to the lowest common denominator i.e. a small group of people fighting over the seat of power, the citizens and the nation can disappear for all they care.
What is a floor-test?
A vote of confidence will be taken in the assembly. The votes given by MLAs will decide who gets to form the government. Here, a majority of votes refers to only the majority among the MLAs who are physically present in the assembly when the vote is taken.
What happened in today’s plea-hearing?
The Supreme Court first clarified that the convention of appointing the senior-most member as the Pro-Tem Speaker is to be interpreted in terms of the years of tenure and not the age of the member in question. Placing INC-JDS on the wrong foot, SC said that questioning the credentials of Bopiah is not possible without delaying the floor-test by a few days.
As reported by the Hindu, Justice Bobde said, “You are in a zone of contradiction. You want us to test the suitability of the pro tem Speaker but you do not want to postpone the test.”
INC has maintained that their primary concern is to ensure there is transparency in the process. Representing BJP, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “Floor test will be telecast live by local channels. What more transparency do they need? Cameras would be by the channels.”
As reported by the Hindu, Justice Sikri responded, “Videography of the floor test will serve the purpose. They are giving access to all local channels. Now let us enjoy our holidays. Our problem is solved.”
What is a Pro-Tem Speaker?
On Friday, taking a detour from supposed convention, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Valla gave the nod to KG Bopiah as the Pro Tem Speaker for Saturday’s floor test. The norm is that the senior-most MLA shall be elected as the Pro Tem Speaker, Congress’s RV Deshpande, an eight-time MLA, in this case. The Congress has already stated it is set to challenge this in the Supreme Court.
KG Bopiah, 62, is a five-time BJP MLA, and a former speaker of the Karnataka Assembly.
NDTV in its report noted that he had infamously disqualified 11 MLAs in 2010 for revolting against the then Chief Minister Mr.Yeddurappa, who was charged in the mining scam. Moreover, the move helped the BJP survive a trust vote, which was later cancelled by the Apex Court.
The noise over his appointment is due immense importance of this appointment. Some of the powers include:
- According to the Supreme Court order, a Pro Tem Speaker will play the role of a normal speaker and will exercise the same powers.
- He/She will also administer oaths to all newly elected MLAs.
- The speaker will also take a call on whether the vote will be through voice or ballot.
- In case of defections, the speaker has enormous powers in swinging the balance between sides.
Constitutional expert, PDT Achary, talked to Network18, said, “nothing constitutionally wrong in a pro tem speaker conducting a floor test”, but he added a caveat that he or she “can only perform the functions of a regular speaker in case the house is not able to select one”.
The power of a speaker can be illustrated using the example of outgoing speaker KB Koliwad, who did not disqualify 7 legislators for cross-voting in favour of a Congress candidate in a Rajya Sabha poll.
The Speaker’s role is going to be crucial and might decide the fate of this election. Due to his discretionary powers over the anti-defection law, BJP might be able to defect or abstain MLAs and get away with it, as seen and done in the past.
Also published on Medium.