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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the plea of 17 disqualified Karnataka MLAs who are seeking to contest bypolls for 15 Assembly seats in the State.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said it would hear their petitions on September 25 the plea in which the disqualified MLAs have sought interim relief to contest the by-elections. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the disqualified MLAs, told the bench that as per disqualification orders of the then Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, these persons cannot contest elections for the remaining period of this Assembly which will end in 2023.

Petitions challenging the disqualification of some of the 17 rebel MLAs of the Karnataka assembly — whose resignation led to the collapse of the Congress-HD Kumaraswamy’s coalition government earlier this year — were listed for last Tuesday after a long break. But the wait of the MLAs got longer as Justice MM Shantanagoudar, one of the judges on the bench, recused himself from the matter. The case was then referred to a different bench and is likely to come up only on Monday next. Meanwhile, last Saturday, the Election Commission (EC) notified in the assembly seats and today, the counsel representing EC, told the bench that bypolls for 15 vacant Assembly seats have been notified and court should not stay the elections. The EC’s counsel also said the Speaker’s order disqualifying these MLAs cannot deprive them of their right to contest bypolls.

—India Legal Bureau

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