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There is a political crisis occurring in the Indian state of Karnataka. According to this article, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly has the strength of 224 elected members, and when the crisis began last week the coalition’s numbers included 118 MLAs (Congress-78, JD(S)-37, BSP-1 and Independents-2), besides the Speaker. The BJP [Opposition party], on the other hand, has 105.

According to this article, there are 16 MLAs who have tendered their resignation, though not formally accepted by the Speaker. According to this article,

[The] Speaker has to first enquire into whether the 10 MLAs concerned have incurred any reason for disqualification prior to the submission of their resignation letter on July 6.

As of now since negotiations by Congress and JD parties are failing with these MLAs the former have issued a whip for July 12, and failure of its compliance would be penalised with disqualification. Per this article:

Mr. Rohatgi said the “game” is to delay action on the resignations and brazenly nudge events to culminate in the disqualification of the MLAs for not obeying their party’s whip during the Assembly session that commenced on July 12.

What I want to know is, does it make any difference for the ruling coalition if the vacancies in the Assembly arise on account of resignation or on account of disqualification under Anti-Defection law (Schedule X of the Indian Constitution)?

I'm confused because of the quotes from the Speaker and Mr. Rohatgi I have included. I understand the Speaker has a duty under Schedule X to check for the defections, but would it make any difference on the outcome the opposition party BJP is expecting?

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According to this article from The Hindu:

The objective of disqualifying the MLAs rather than allowing them to quit will not save the government, but it will prevent them from taking oath as ministers in an alternative Cabinet.

What this means is, if the concerned members get disqualified under Schedule X, then:

  • they would also be disqualified to contest for by-polls (per Article 191(2)) for the ensuing vacant seats in the Legislative Assembly, and would be ineligible to contest for Legislative Council of Karnataka as well.
  • In addition, per Article 164(1B) they would further stand disqualified from being inducted as a Minister in the new Council of Ministers that would be formed post the trust/confidence vote in the Assembly.

These disqualifications would continue until the remainder term of the concerned vacant seats expire. For example, if they were elected in the general election for Assembly in 2018 and were disqualified in 2019, then the disqualifications would continue until the new general election comes.

However, if those members' resignations get accepted as voluntary and genuine under Article 190(3)(b), then they would be eligible to contest for by-polls again and for the induction as a Minister in the new Council of Ministers.

It must be noted that the object of Schedule X was to curb the evil of political defections motivated by the lure of office or other similar considerations which endanger the foundations of a democracy.

In short, it doesn't make any difference to the ruling party or the opposition party when staking claim for forming government. The Congress-JD coalition seems to want to punish the rebels through Schedule X.

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