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Karnataka Elections: Fearing another Goa, Congress drafted SC plea for largest party to be invited first | India News

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NEW DELHI: Behind the post-midnight drama in the Supreme Court on Thursday lies the story of Congress’s determination to form the government in Karnataka and its legal team’s readiness to tweak and recast its plea thrice over, in sync with the rapidly evolving political scenario, before finally challenging the governor’s decision to invite B S Yeddyurappa to form the government.

Before the election results were even declared, a tentative draft petition had been prepared on the basis of Congress’s hunch that it would emerge as the single largest party and could face a situation akin to Goa, where BJP had quickly outsmarted Congress, the single-largest party, to cobble a post-poll coalition and steal a march to form the government. Wiser from that experience, Congress’s legal team led by Abhishek Manu Singhvi had almost finalised a petition to be filed in the apex court seeking a direction to the governor to invite the single-largest party to form the government.

Read also: Yeddyurappa sworn in as SC refuses to stay governor’s invite


Though the results announced on Tuesday surprised the party, the Singhvi-led legal team, comprising young guns Devadatt Kamat, Rajesh Inamdar, Javed Rehman, Aditya Bhat and Gautam Talukdar, quickly redrafted and tweaked the petition to seek a direction from the court to the governor to invite the post-poll Congress-JD(S) alliance.

Congress’s think tank anticipated that the governor would delay inviting the combine, which has 116 MLAs, to help the B S Yeddyurappa-led BJP to win over MLAs from rival parties with allurement.

This petition was finalised by around 7pm on Wednesday and vetted and cleared by Singhvi for filing in the Supreme Court to kill the delaying option available to the governor.

Read also: Yeddyurappa’s fate hinges on his letters to governor

However, TV channels started hinting around 8pm on Wednesday that the governor may invite Yeddyurappa to form the government. It triggered a panic reaction in Congress, whose seniors then consulted Singhvi on phone. The seasoned lawyer called upon Kamat and other juniors to urgently redraft the petition again and turn it on its head to challenge the governor’s decision as unconstitutional since he was denying invitation to form government to a post-poll coalition with demonstrable majority in the House.

Kamat and his juniors redrafted the petition yet again. It required a completely new set of judgments to be cited to buttress the argument that the governor had no discretion but to invite a coalition which presents ex facie evidence of commanding majority support in the House to form the government. It was already 10.30pm when Singhvi gave the final touches to the petition. Copies were then made for filing in the court.

The legal team rushed to the court at 10.30pm but found the gate closed. They encountered a bunch of stubborn security guards who, oblivious to the situation’s urgency, refused to open the gates. The registrar of the court came to the scene and facilitated their entry at 11pm. He scrutinised the petition and asked what the urgency was. Kamat gave an explanation and said it was not for the registrar to decide whether the petition required urgent hearing. He wanted to argue urgently before CJI Dipak Misra, the master of the roster who alone could constitute a bench.

The registrar left for the CJI’s residence at 12.30am. The CJI consulted the judges before it was announced that the hearing would be in the SC in court number 2 at 1.45am. Court number 2 stirred a reaction in the media, which speculated that the bench would be headed by Justice J Chelameswar, who had recently led a rebel press conference of four senior judges against the CJI’s allegedly arbitrary administrative decisions on case allocations. Court officials quickly clarified to a gathering media outside the SC that the petition would be heard in court number 6 and that the bench would be headed by Justice A K Sikri.

Updated: May 18, 2018 — 2:10 am

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