The Supreme Court’s observations on the speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly still not having decided whether to accept the resignations of rebel legislators have raised questions about his impartiality.

The Supreme Court asked Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel of KR Ramesh Kumar, why the speaker hadn’t decided on the matter despite significant time having elapsed since the resignations were tendered.

Singhvi argued that a decision on their disqualification, whose proceedings began before the resignations were submitted, would have to be taken first. But the apex court didn’t agree, noting that the two were separate matters. One might wonder why it matters how the legislators exit the Assembly: by resigning as legislators or by getting disqualified. It’s because it can affect their ability to hold a ministerial position in a government that might replace the current one.

A disqualification would bar them from such a position, but that won’t be the case if their resignations are accepted and they are re-elected to the House in bypolls.

Thankfully, the speaker has now committed to make a decision on Wednesday. But the situation shouldn’t have been allowed to come to such a pass in the first place.

There was little reason for the resignations not to have been accepted within reasonable time. The speaker’s contention that they weren’t submitted in the right format and that he wanted to meet the legislators personally before accepting them does not sound convincing, as the top court’s observations suggest.

True, the opposition has no higher moral ground to cry foul since it has itself been accused of using undemocratic tools in an alleged attempt to form its own government. But horse trading is horse trading, no matter which side indulges in it, and none of it should pass muster. Any further delay on the resignations would result in the ruling alliance getting more time to buy or coerce the rebel legislators into returning to its fold.

Nothing should be done that imperils the fundamental principles of our democracy. As for the future of the current government, it must be decided on the floor of the House.

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