SC not impressed with arguments on conventions on pro tem speaker’s appointment

NEW DELHI: The arguments of the Congress-JD(S) combine that the appointment of the senior most legislator as the pro tem speaker was the “established convention” did not cut ice with the Supreme Court on Saturday which said conventions cannot be the “rule” and it cannot be enforced.
A bench comprising justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, that the court cannot enforce a convention and direct the governor of Karnataka to appoint the senior most member as the pro tem speaker.Sibal, while referring to precedents about appointment of senior most member of the House as the pro tem speaker, said that the top court could direct the governor regarding this since “it was the convention”.“It is convention only. No, we cannot do it (direct the governor). Conventions are not rules and it cannot be the law,” the bench observed.Justice Bobde also said that during the 14th Lok Sabha, Congress leader Balasaheb Vikhe Patil was appointed the pro tem speaker when perhaps his party colleague Sis Ram Ola was the senior most.“I do not wish to contradict you as you are parliamentarian and you know better but Sis Ram Ola was senior to Balasaheb Vikhe Patil. Please check it up,” justice Bobde told Sibal. The bench also said if the Congress-JD(S) combine was casting aspersions against BJP MLA K G Bopaiah, who has been appointed as the pro tem speaker of the Karnataka assembly, then he would have to be heard and the floor test would have to be postponed. However, Sibal and his colleague and senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the combine, did not press for the directions to set aside the governor’s decision to appoint Bopaiah as the pro tem speaker and seeking appointment of the senior most leader to the post During the hearing, the bench also said it had declined to pass an order during the rare pre-dawn hearing in the matter on May 17 when the Congress-JD(S) combine had challenged the governor’s decision to invite the BJP leader to form government, since it wanted to hear Yeddyurappa before passing any direction.