Dinesh Gundu Rao

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision of the then Karnataka speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to disqualify 17 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs under the anti-defection law but said that they can contest the upcoming by-elections in the state.

Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi said that rebel MLAs enjoy protection from the Supreme Court against disqualification and they were free to participate or not in the proceedings in the Assembly during the trust vote.

Last night, in an attempt to save the coalition government in Karnataka, Congress leaders KC Venugopal, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Siddaramaiah, G Parameshwara, MB Patil, and Eshwara Khandre held a meeting at an undisclosed location with legal advisers.