NEW DELHI: The anti-defection law, which bans lawmakers from changing parties, does not apply to Karnataka's newly-elected legislators if they haven't been sworn in yet, the centre argued in a post-midnight Supreme Court hearing on Congress' petition after BJP's BS Yeddyurappa was invited by the governor to form government and also given 15 days to prove his majority.
Calling the argument "preposterous", the court said in the hearing that went on till dawn, "It means an open invitation to horse-trading."
The BJP has 105 lawmakers, including an independent, and is seven short of a majority. The party, however, has won this round against the Congress-Janata Dal-Secular, which together have 116 lawmakers.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who had filed the petition for the Congress-JDS alliance, argued before three judges that the BJP could not claim to get a majority unless it claims it will encourage lawmakers to defect. To this, the court said the anti-defection law would cover this.
KK Venugopal, the centre's top law officer, suggested that this may not be the case. "Defection is one member crosses to another party. Defection law won't apply before the elected member is sworn in as MLA," he said.