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Indian Case Summary

Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil vs Honble Speaker Karnataka … on 13 November, 2019 – Case Summary

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In the case of Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil vs Hon’ble Speaker Karnataka, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a complex political dispute that had significant implications for the democratic process in the state of Karnataka. The case was presided over by a bench consisting of N.V. Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna, and Krishna Murari.

Facts of the Case

The case revolved around the political turmoil in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in 2019. The results of the 15th Karnataka Legislative Assembly were declared on 15th May 2018, with the Indian National Congress (INC) winning 78 seats. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party. Despite this, the BJP’s attempt to form the government was unsuccessful, and a coalition government of INC and Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] was formed under the leadership of Mr. Kumaraswamy.

The petitioners in this case were elected members of the 15th Karnataka Legislative Assembly. However, they submitted their resignations from the membership of the House between 01.07.2019 to 11.07.2019. The Speaker did not accept these resignations, leading to a trust vote on 23.07.2019. The coalition government lost the trust vote, leading to the resignation of Mr. Kumaraswamy as Chief Minister.

Subsequently, the Speaker passed orders disqualifying the petitioners. The orders stated that the resignations were not voluntary or genuine, disqualified all the petitioners, and disqualified the petitioners till the end of the 15th Legislative Assembly term. Aggrieved by these disqualifications, the petitioners approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Issues Raised

The case raised several important issues. The primary issue was whether the resignations submitted by Members of the Legislative Assembly should have priority over petitions for their disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The court also had to consider whether the Speaker had acted within his constitutional mandate in rejecting the resignations and disqualifying the members.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that in a parliamentary democracy, the obligations of constitutional morality are expected to be equally binding on the government and the opposition. The court also noted that the role of the Speaker is critical in maintaining the balance between democratic values and constitutional considerations.

The court further observed that the Speaker’s role in determining the voluntariness and genuineness of the resignations is limited. The inquiry as to “voluntariness” is limited to the question of whether the member was coerced to resign or not. The inquiry as to “genuineness” only relates to whether the resignation letter was forged, or not actually made by the member.


The court concluded that the Speaker should be left free to decide the issue in accordance with Article 190 read with Rule 202 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly framed in exercise of the powers under Article 208 of the Constitution. The court also made it clear that until further orders the 15 Members of the Assembly, ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or to opt to remain out of the same.