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SC refuses to stay Yeddyurappa’s swearing-in, but keeps it subject to case outcome

The media converged at the residence of Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra in anticipation of an urgent hearing on the matter.

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New Delhi, May 17: The Supreme Court early on Thursday after a midnight hearing refused to stay the swearing-in of BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa as Karnataka’s new Chief Minister. The case will be at 10.30 am on May 18. 

After a rare midnight hearing that ran for hours, the court refused to stay the oath taking ceremony as was sought in a joint petition by the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S).

“In case he is given oath in the meantime, that shall be subject to further orders of this Court and final outcome of the writ petition (by the Congress and JD-S),” said the three-judge bench, recording the proceedings of the night in the packed Room No.6.

Presiding the proceedings were Justices A.K. Sikri, S.A. Bobde and Ashok Bhushan.

Yeddyruppa took oath as planned but on Friday at 10.30 a.m. when the apex court hears the matter again, he will have to produce the two letters dated May 15 and 16 he has written to Governor Vajubhai Vala to stake his claim for government formation.

The BJP leader is said to have claimed a majority support in the letters.

But the question is how?

The Congress and JD-S had challenged Karnataka Governor Vala’s invitation to Yeddyurappa to form the government despite the BJP falling short of legislative numbers to claim majority in the 222-member Assembly. Voting was not held in two of the 224 constituencies on May 12.

The BJP won 104, the Congress 78 and the JD-S 37. Any party or grouping needs 112 members to claim majority as per the present strength of the House. The Congress and JD-S didn’t have a pre-poll alliance but cobbled together a grouping after the results threw a hung Assembly.

Together, and with a support of one BSP member and an independent, the Congress and JD-S make 117.

The Governor still invited Yeddyurappa and gave him 15 days of time to prove majority.

The Congress lashed out at the Governor’s move calling it “partisan and biased” and rushed to the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing that commenced at 2.20 a.m. and concluded at 5.30 in the morning.

During the hearing, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Congress, argued that the Governor must have invited the post-poll coalition to form government as no single party secured majority.

He questioned the 15-day time given to Yeddyurappa for proving majority, saying the Supreme Court had earlier said that “to give such time is to encourage the constitutional sin of poaching”.

In his argument that ran for more than an hour, Singhvi also cited instances of Meghalaya, Manipur, Goa, Delhi, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir as precedents of post-poll alliances being invited to form governments.

“There is only one way a party which got 104 will get 113… I heard he asked for seven days (time to prove majority) but the Governor gave 15. Elementary common sense and arithmetic go against this kind of giving of time,” Singhvi said. “Question is whether it is valid, fair or capricious.”

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said everything was in the realm of “speculation” as the entire matter was still “a grey area”.

Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the BJP, questioned the urgency of the matter to hear it at midnight as if “heavens will fall if a person is sworn in the morning”.

Justice Sikri asked him on what basis was his side claiming majority in the House. “It is not a fluid situation. In view of this arithmetic, on what basis you claim majority.”

Venugopal intervened: “Everything is reversible. What is the great loss by waiting for 15 days?”

Justice Bobde countered: “That is the other point. Why wait for 15 days?”

Venugopal said it was the Governor’s decision.

The court observed that it was “preposterous” to argue that before MLAs take oath they were not amenable to anti-defection law.

“It means open invitation to horse-trading. It is preposterous (to argue) that before he (an elected MLA) takes oath as member all this (floor crossing) is allowed,” Justice Sikri told the Attorney General.

“In a case like this where the opposite side is showing 117 MLAs support, how you will have 112,” Justice Sikri asked, adjourning the hearing till Friday morning.

IANS

India

Barricades to open on Jan 26 as police allow Tractor Rally

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The Delhi Police on Sunday said that after several round of talks with the farmers groups, it has permitted the tractor rally inside Delhi on January 26.

Police has said that the barricades would be lifted at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders on January 26 after the Republic Day parade is over and the farmers would be allowed to enter upto 100 kilometers within Delhi with their tractors in a circular path on the routes discussed with the farmers.

The route specified is from Singhu Border to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Kanjhawala, Bawana to Auchadi. From Tikri border, it will be to Nangloi, Najafgarh, Jharoda, Dhansa, Badli and the KMP and from Gazipur border to Apsara border to Hapur Road.

“We have told the farmers that the rally would start once the Republic Day parade is over. We expect with the cooperation of the farmers the rally would be peaceful,” Special Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, Deependra Pathak, said.

However, the police said that they are on alert after intelligence inputs that various Twitter handles operating from across the border are active to disrupt the rally on January 26.

“According to our intelligence input, 308 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the rally to create disturbance. We are also concerned about the security of the rally given the threat perception,” he added.

Meanwhile, several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana set out on their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to take part in the proposed tractor rally on January 26 in the national capital. Tractor-trolleys have now become a common sight at the Singhu border as the farmers have started bringing in the tractors to the protest site from villages in Punjab for the proposed rally.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states have been protesting at multiple border points of Delhi at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders since November-end. They are demanding a repeal of the three central farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year.

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Soldier injured in Pak ceasefire violation succumbs

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An Army soldier injured in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan on the Line of Control in J&K’s Rajouri district, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

An Indian Army statement said, “Pakistan Army had resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation on the LoC in Sunderbani sector of J&K on January 18 which was responded to strongly by our own troops.”

“In the incident, Naik Nishant Sharma of 10 JAK RIF was critically injured and was under treatment at the command hospital.

“Today the soldier succumbed to injuries. Naik Nishant Sharma was a brave, highly motivated and sincere soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty.”

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CBI arrests labour official in TN in bribery case

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 The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Sunday that it had arrested a Regional Labour Commissioner on the charge of demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000.

P Sivarajan, posted as Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) in Madurai, was held along with a private person N Murali after the CBI laid a trap on Saturday and caught them with the bribe amount.

A case was registered after a complaint that Sivarajan was demanding undue advantage from Murali, representing a private company, for issuing labour licence.

Searches were conducted at five places in Chennai and Madurai (Tamil Nadu), including the residence and offices of the accused, said the CBI.

Both the accused were produced in the court of Principal Special Judge for CBI cases, Chennai, and remanded to judicial custody till February 4.

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