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Indian Case Summary

D.Sudhakar & Ors vs D.N.Jeevanraju & Ors on 25 January, 2012 – Case Summary

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In the case of D. Sudhakar & Ors vs D.N. Jeevanraju & Ors on 25 January, 2012, the Supreme Court of India was tasked with examining a complex issue of political defection and the interpretation of the Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. The case was presided over by Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph.

Facts of the Case

The case revolved around five Independent Members of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly who were disqualified by the Speaker of the Assembly under Paragraph 2(2) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India. The disqualification was based on the grounds that these members had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after their election as Independent candidates. The order of disqualification was challenged by these members in the Supreme Court.

The appellants were elected to the Thirteenth Karnataka Legislative Assembly as independent candidates in the elections held in May 2008. They were sworn in as Ministers in the Cabinet of the government headed by Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa, the leader of the BJP Legislature Party. However, on 6th October 2010, the appellants submitted separate letters to the Governor of Karnataka expressing their lack of confidence in the Government headed by Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa due to alleged widespread corruption and nepotism.

Issues Raised

The main issue in the case was whether the appellants, by joining the Cabinet of the BJP-led government, had effectively joined the BJP, thereby attracting disqualification under Paragraph 2(2) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The appellants contended that they had not joined the BJP and remained independent members. They argued that their conduct did not fall within the meaning of “defection” as defined in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

Another issue was whether the Speaker’s order disqualifying the appellants was in violation of the principles of natural justice. The appellants argued that they were not given sufficient time to respond to the show-cause notices issued by the Speaker, and that the Speaker had acted in haste to disqualify them before the Vote of Confidence was to be taken by Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the Speaker’s decision was subject to judicial review, especially when there were allegations of mala fide action and violation of natural justice. The court also noted that the Speaker had acted in a mala fide manner to bail out the Chief Minister and to save his own Chair by not referring the case to the Committee of Privileges, despite the allegations of bias made by the appellants.

The court also examined the interpretation of Paragraph 2(2) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. It was argued that the Speaker and the High Court had erroneously equated the expression “Political Party” with the Government of the State. The court noted that merely because the appellants had joined the Council of Ministers in the Yeddyurappa Government, it could not be contended that they had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The case is significant as it delves into the interpretation of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which deals with the disqualification of members on the ground of defection. It also highlights the importance of the principles of natural justice in the proceedings of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.