Bangalore, Jan 24: Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah came under sharp attack from the BJP MLAs whose attempts to destabilise the Jagadish Shettar government by submitting their resignation letters failed on Wednesday.
The absence of Bopaiah in the office and the Legislative Assembly joint secretary Jayatreertha Galagali’s refusal to accept the MLAs’ resignation letters left B S Yeddyurappa and his loyalists fuming.
They vociferously sought to know from the officials at the Secretariat the whereabouts of the Speaker, but in vain. While the speculation was that Bopaiah was in Nepal, there was no confirmation on this count. If he has gone abroad, it has to be a private trip as the secretariat has not organised any official tour for him.
According to the Rules and Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly, the Speaker is the sole authority for receiving and processing resignations of MLAs.
Rule 202 states that a member who desires to resign from his seat in the House shall intimate the Speaker in his own handwriting and in the prescribed format his intention to quit, and shall not give any reason for his resignation. It also states that a member should personally hand over the resignation letter to the Speaker and inform him that the resignation is voluntary and genuine.
If the Speaker receives the resignation letter either by post or through someone else, he may make such inquiry which he deems fit to satisfy himself that the resignation is voluntary and genuine.
What the rule says...
However, the Rule 202 is silent on who should receive resignation letter in the absence of the Speaker.
Does the rule stop the Speaker’s office staff from even receiving resignation letters?
S B Patil, former secretary of the Assembly, said that while any staff of the Speaker’s office can receive resignation letters, only the Speaker has the powers to accept or reject them.
“The Speaker alone has the right to accept or reject the resignations. But, in his absence, his personal secretary, special officer or any other officer is allowed to receive the letters. In Parliament, there are instances where the resignations sent through fax have been accepted when the Speaker was out of the country.”
Asked whether the Governor, in the given situation, can direct the Speaker to make himself immediately available to the MLAs, Patil said, “Normally such directions are not given. If the Speaker goes out of the country for a long duration, or takes leave, there is a provision in the Constitution to transfer his power to the Deputy Speaker.”
When contacted, Deputy Speaker N Yogish Bhat said he had no clue as to where the Speaker was.
Former Speaker Ramesh Kumar said the office of the Speaker came under the Public Servants (Inquiries) Act, and that the Speaker was obliged to keep his whereabouts known.
“The Speaker is duty-bound to let the people know about his whereabouts even if he is on a private visit. The Speaker was aware of the developments in the ruling party and that a few MLAs were resigning on Wednesday. He should have kept his whereabouts known, or at least his personal secretary should have been in office,” Kumar opined.
He said the Governor had every right to write to the State government to secure the presence of the Speaker.