SC asks BJP if MP rebel MLAs exercised choice freely?

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the BJP how could the court be sure that the 16 rebel Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh, staying at a resort in Bengaluru, had exercised their choice to tender their resignations from the state Assembly freely?

A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justice Hemant Gupta said these 16 could tilt the balance this way or that way.

“We are thinking as to how we can ensure an order….They must have free unhindered access to the Assembly. They should be free to exercise, do whatever they want.”

Advocate Maninder Singh, representing the rebel MLAs, submitted before the court that it is wrong that MLAs were kidnapped or abducted and all allegations of coercion are rubbish. “They resigned out of their own free will. A direction be issued to the Speaker to accept their resignations,” insisted Singh.

BJP insisted that it can bring the 16 rebel Congress MLAs and present them before Justices Chandrachud and Gupta in chamber and the judges can ascertain the views of MLAs.

Justice Chandrachud referred to the affidavit filed by the rebel MLAs. The court noted that how does it ensure that there is a free exercise of choice? “And, as a constitutional court, we also have to discharge our duties. What can be the modalities to ensure it? “said Justice Chandrachud.

During the hearing, the bench said that it does not want to play the role of the Speaker, then the BJP counsel Mukul Rohatgi said the Karnataka High Court Registrar can meet the rebel Congress MLAs at Bengaluru. And, after meeting the Rrgistrar can ascertain whether they are kept captive or are there of their own volition.

Justice Chandrachud repeated that the MLAs cannot be held hostage or captive. “They should have access. They should be allowed to do what they want. Let there be free and unrestrained exercise. We are thinking of modalities”, observed the court.

Rohatgi insisted that the MLAs have been on camera saying they are free. “You (Congress) can’t prove anything in negative. We don’t want to come. Speaker can do whatever he wants to do. We won’t come”.



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