A Bharatiya Janata Party government led by chief minister B S Yeddyurappa was today sworn in the southern Indian state of Karnataka after a past-midnight high-voltage legal battle in the Supreme Court.
State Governor Vajubhai Vala, a BJP veteran from Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, administered the oath to 75-year-old Yeddyurappa this morning after a three-member Supreme Court bench, in a rare past-midnight hearing on a petition by Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), refused to stay the swearing-in ceremony, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Congress and JD(S), which stitched an alliance after the results of the Mat 12 Karnataka legislative assembly polls were announced on May 15, backed JD (S) to form the government saying the two parties have a majority with 116 legislators in the 224-member state legislature, reports the correspondent.
Late on Wednesday evening, BJP, which emerged as the single largest party in the May 12 assembly elections in the state, was invited by Vala to form the government and given 15 days to prove majority on the floor of the assembly.
BJP has 105 lawmakers, including an Independent, and is eight short of majority.
Congress moved the Supreme Court late on Wenesday night by going to the residence of the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and asked for the swearing-in to be stopped, according to the correspondent.
Congress urged Justice Misra to cancel the governor's invitation to the BJP, calling the decision an “encounter on the Constitution.”
The apex court Chief Justice formed a three-judge bench to hear the petition.
The bench, comprising justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, which commenced the hearing on the matter shortly before 2 am, declined to stop the swearing in.,
"As far as swearing-in is concerned, we are not restraining it but we are making it subject to the outcome of the case," it said.
The top court ordered BJP to produce the letters submitted by Yeddyurappa to the Governor to stake claim to form the government. "JD(S) and Congress outweigh BJP. In a situation like this, on what basis has Yeddyurappa claimed he has the numbers...Arithmetic defies the way he was invited," it observed.
Congress leader and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued before the bench that Congress was deprived to form government in Goa despite being single largest party last year and the Supreme Court had upheld that government-formation in the coastal state.
Singhvi said BJP in Karnataka has 104 MLAs and the Governor invited Yeddyurappa to form government in an "unconstitutional manner". He said JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy with Congress has 116 MLAs.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing BJP and Yeddyurappa in the top court hearing said no injunction can be issued to the Governor.