After the ‘Midnight Drama’, BS Yeddyurappa takes oath as Karnataka CM. The top court will take up the case again on Friday. In the meantime, the BJP has been asked to produce BSY’s letter to the Governor staking claim to form the government. Here’s a report, for Different Truths.
The arguments finally grind to a halt at 4.56 am and the three-judge bench of Justices Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan rule at around 5.30 am that the governor’s actions can be “injuncted against” but that his orders cannot be restrained. “Are the Governor’s actions amenable?” asks the Supreme Court, and former attorney general Mukul Rohtagi, speaking for the Karnataka BJP, replies, “His actions are amenable, otherwise he’ll be Badshah!”
Thus winds up the ‘Midnight Drama’ and with that BS Yeddyurappa takes oath as Karnataka CM. The top court will take up the case again on Friday. In the meantime, the BJP has been asked to produce BSY’s letter to the Governor staking claim to form the government.
“Have you seen the letter? Do you have a copy of the letter,” Justice Bobde and Justice Sikri ask Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the Congress, and later Attorney General KK Venugopal. Singhvi says ‘no’ and Venugopal says ‘no’. To Singhvi, the court asks, “If you have not seen the letter, how do you know they don’t have the numbers?” To Venugopal, the court says, “Produce the letter; get a copy. You say the situation is fluid but the numbers do not support.”
Unfortunately, for the Congress, the Governor because of his constitutional position enjoys certain powers that cannot be questioned unless the governor commits illegalities and his actions are malafide. “If I cannot issue a notice to a Governor if I cannot summon him, how can I restrain his order?” says Justice Bobde, putting the stalemate in perspective, the words unwelcome to the ears of Singhvi, who refuses to let go till he has the last word. But then, the clock on the wall says a half hour to 6 am and the birds are chirping outside the Supreme Court building as media voices convey to ‘India Awake’ what all transpired in courtroom No.6, thanks to the bounty called smartphone!
And so BS Yeddyurappa comes to become Chief Minister of Karnataka again. The pathos is seen in outgoing CM Siddaramaiah and the seething anger in Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Singhvi in his closing remarks in the SC calls the ruling the “height of trivialization” and asks, “Where is the law in it?” Siddaramaiah at 9 am says, “He (BSY) is in there alone, all the MLAs are here (outside a resort, gathered under a Mahatma Gandhi statue). And the other Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, compares the judiciary in India to the judiciary in Pakistan!
Rahul’s father’s friend Mani Shankar Aiyar may not take that insult to Pakistan. But Manu Singhvi in courtroom No.6 spoke for everyone when he marvelled at the midnight spectacle and asked, “Which other Supreme Court in the world will open its door at such an hour?”
Singhvi argued for an hour and 18 minutes. He questioned the governor’s intent. He warned of horse-trading. He cited judgement after judgement. He lined up instances of post-poll alliances given first chance to form the government, including in Delhi when the Congress and AAP joined hands in post-poll to form the government even though the BJP was the single-largest party. He held forth on “why the unseemly hurry” and, when all was lost, he asked for moving the swearing-in to 4.30 pm. The desperation was showing and the slip was in disorder, the ladder running up the stocking ungainly, for everyone to see.
Singhvi brings in Goa and Manipur and seeks to convey that if the BJP can do it, why cannot the Congress-JD(S)? But the 3-judge bench is not looking at that. Justices Sikri and Bobde and Bhushan are on the limited point of whether the SC can restrain the governor’s orders or not? “How do you know BSY has not claimed majority support of MLAs to the Governors and did not submit the list of MLAs?” asks the court. Singhvi has no answer. “Prime facie has to be seen as per majority,” the court then says and Singhvi wonders aloud “swearing in such short notice unprecedented.”
Justice Bobde returns to the same question, “Can the SC stop a Guv’s decision, restrain a governor?” to which Singhvi says it has been done before. “So, who is in charge in Karnataka right now?” asks the court, and Singhvi answers: “The caretaker government”. The atmosphere at 2.45 am is “extremely heated”, when the SC asks, “Won’t restraining the Governor create a vacuum?” The tireless Singhvi refuses to fall for that.
Then it is the turn of Attorney General KK Venugopal to face the bench and he tells the court, “We don’t know what transpired (in the Raj Bhavan) and Justice Sikri asks, “Can you not give us a copy of the BSY letter?” to which there is a cryptic “No” from Venugopal. The court says the “other side had given a letter with 117 names” and Venugopal replies, “We don’t know how many signatures are genuine.”
“Can MLAs take the oath without CM being sworn-in?” The court asks and KKV answers, “That will be highly unorthodox, a procedure is first CM…” That is when Mukul Rohtagi goes into the full flow: “Why is this happening at midnight? What’s so urgent…I heard and saw this on TV and came. Last time it happened was Yakub Memon. Are the heavens falling if someone is sworn in?”
Hours later Rahul Gandhi explains why the heavens were falling, and why the midnight intervention? Because the judiciary in India is worse than the one in Pakistan. Will the Pakistan Supreme Court open its doors to a special hearing at midnight and carry on till 6 in the morning? Such a shame!
Photo from the Internet