Bengaluru: There were unruly scenes in the Karnataka Legislative Council Tuesday, the day the controversial anti-cow slaughter bill was to be tabled in the Upper House, before council chairman Prathap Chandra Shetty adjourned proceedings sine-die for the second time in four days.
The scuffle was sparked by BJP MLCs attempting to place the deputy chairperson S.L. Dharmegowda of the JD(S) in the chair, to conduct proceedings, before Shetty had arrived in the Upper House.
Congress MLCs responded by asking Dharmegowda to get off the chair before they manhandled and physically removed him. This led to scuffles between both sides.
The BJP had also been looking to move a no-confidence motion against Shetty, who is from the Congress. The matter was to be taken up on 11 December but Shetty had adjourned the House sine die, thereby even preventing the anti-cow slaughter bill from being tabled in the House.
On Tuesday, Shetty eventually arrived but once again adjourned the House.
Congress MLC Prakash Rathod defended the move to “evict the deputy chairman”, terming the BJP’s efforts to place him in the chair as being unconstitutional and an attempt at an “illegal sitting”.
“We (Congress) requested him to get down from the chair but he would not budge,” Rathod told ThePrint. “We told him that he cannot be occupying the chair and it was illegal. We had no choice but to evict him.”
Rathod accused the JD(S) of being in cahoots with the BJP, another clear indication of the once coalition partners having fallen apart.
Second session in the last week
The BJP had approached the Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala for permission to hold the one-day session after the last adjournment on 11 December. The governor had given his nod Saturday.
The BJP had hoped to replace Shetty with Dharmegowda by seeking JD(S) help. The BJP is the largest party in the 75-member council with 31 members. The JD(S) has 14 members while the Congress has 28 MLCs.
The BJP accused Shetty of acting illegally.
“The adjournment by the council chairman is illegal. How can the council chairman adjourn the session when there were pending bills? The council chairman stated the announcement of the gram panchayat polls as the reason behind adjourning the house,” J.C. Madhuswamy, Karnataka’s Law Minister told ThePrint.
“He cannot take such decisions unilaterally. The power is vested in the government to summon and prorogue the session,” he added.
“He also did not allow the passage of the anti-cow slaughter bill as he brought the session to an end,” Madhuswamy said. “There have been several bills that have been either not passed or delayed in the council. We have no confidence in him.”
While Shetty said he is seeking legal opinion regarding the no-confidence motion, legal experts told ThePrint the government is well within its rights to convene the session.
“The government is entitled to reconvene the session if it is to discuss the no-confidence motion. Reconvening the legislature is exclusively the prerogative of the legislature and the legality of such issues is not amenable for judicial review,” former advocate general Ashok Haranahalli.