Bopaiah to continue as pro tem speaker of new Karnataka assembly

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Saturday ruled that BJP lawmaker KG Bopaiah will continue as the pro tem speaker of the new Karnataka assembly after the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) dropped their demand in the Supreme Court to replace him ahead of a court-ordered floor test on Saturday.

“Law can’t direct the governor to appoint a particular person as pro-tem speaker. Unless convention becomes legal norm, it can’t be enforced by Court,” said the Supreme Court.

The court also ordered the proceedings of the Karnataka assembly be shared with local TV channels for transparency.

The Congress had asked the top court on Friday evening to cancel Bopaiah’s appointment by Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala because he had a dubious and controversial record. Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala appointed Bopaiah as pro tem speaker on Friday.

The Congress had contended that Bopaiah, a five-time lawmaker, is not the senior-most member in the newly-elected House and as per the convention, it is only the senior-most member in terms of number of times he has been elected to the Assembly who can be a pro tem Speaker.

A bench comprising justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan told senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who is also a Congress leader, that it will have to listen to Bopaiah and the floor test will have to be rescheduled. Sibal and other lawyers representing the Congress and JD (S) then dropped their demand for a new pro tem speaker.

Congress leaders said Bopaiah, as the assembly’s speaker, appeared to have been selected for his proven track record in helping Yeddyurappa survive the floor test in 2010.

Back then, Bopaiah, 62, had then famously disqualified five independent and 11 BJP lawmakers who rebelled against Yeddyurappa after he was charged in a mining scam. That ruling helped the BJP government of Yeddyurappa survive the trust vote ordered by the government.

The decision was cancelled by the Supreme Court in 2011 which concluded that he hadn’t been fair.

Bopaiah was also pro tem speaker in 2008, when the Yeddyurappa government fell short of a majority and had to depend on five independents to scrape through the trust vote.

Congress’s RV Deshpande, an eight-time lawmaker, is far senior to Mr Bopaiah, said the Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi.