BJP legislator AH Vishwanath can’t be minister, SC concurs | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the high court verdict barring BJP legislator AH Vishwanath from becoming a minister or holding any other public office until he gets elected to the legislative assembly or council, or till the remaining term of the assembly.
The verdict has dashed his hopes of becoming a minister in the Yediyurappa cabinet and possibly spelt an end to his four-decade-long political career. Vishwanath is a nominated MLC.
“I have been politically shot down by BJP, Congress and JD(S) in a secret pact,” he said after the verdict. “I will continue to fight legally. When the state BJP sent the list of candidates to elect members for the council last year to the party high command for approval, my name was on the top of the list but only my name was not approved. It suggests there was some conspiracy by all three parties.”
After long wait for berth, setback for Vishwanath
Hearing a batch of petitions challenging the induction of disqualified MLAs Vishwanath, R Shankar and MTB Nagaraj into the cabinet, the high court in November 2020 had ruled that Vishwanath’s disqualification under the antidefection law will continue till the expiry of the term of the current assembly (May 2023). Vishwanath had moved the apex court and the bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde dismissed his plea on Thursday.
The SC bench said the disqualified MLAs cannot hold any public office till they get re-elected to either of the houses. “If you are elected as an MLA or MLC, you can become minister in the government but if you are nominated, you cannot become minister. The high court is right,” the bench said, dismissing his petition.
Vishwanath, who was JD(S) president, was among 17 MLAs who resigned in 2019, leading to the fall of the JD(S)-Congress government led by HD Kumaraswamy. In 2019, then Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar held that his resignation amounted to defection under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution. The Speaker’s order was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2019. However, the top court clarified that the disqualified members can contest bye-elections.
Though Vishwanath contested the by-polls on BJP ticket, he lost. In July 2020, he was nominated by the governor to the legislative council, seemingly as a part of a plan to induct him as a minister. However, the state government’s move to make Vishwanath and two other similarly nominated members (Shankar and Nagaraj) ministers was challenged in the high court in a PIL filed by one Harisha AS.
On November 30, 2020, a division bench headed by Chief Justice AS Oka ruled that the disqualification of Vishwanath subsisted even after his nomination. The bench observed that the Governor should take this aspect into account while acting on the recommendation to make him a minister.

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Sagar Biswas

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