26 Nov 2019 5:12 AM GMT
In a significant development in the ongoing Maharashtra political crisis, the Supreme Court on Tuesday requested the Maharashtra Governor to ensure that a floor test for proving the majority of Devendra Fadnavis government is held tomorrow at 5 PM.The SC ordered in the petition filed filed jointly by Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress as follows :"to curtail unlawful...
In a significant development in the ongoing Maharashtra political crisis, the Supreme Court on Tuesday requested the Maharashtra Governor to ensure that a floor test for proving the majority of Devendra Fadnavis government is held tomorrow at 5 PM.
The SC ordered in the petition filed filed jointly by Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress as follows :
"to curtail unlawful practices such as horse trading, to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable Government, we are of the considered opinion that it is necessary to pass certain interim directions in this case. In this context, it is necessary and expedient to conduct the floor test as soon as possible to determine whether the Chief Minister, who was administered the oath of office, has the support of the majority or not. Since the elected members of the Legislative Assembly are yet to take oath as specified in the III Schedule of the Constitution, and the Speaker is also yet to be elected, we request the Governor of the State of Maharashtra to ensure that a floor test be held on 27.11.2019"
The test should be held through open ballet, videogrpahed and telecasted live, ordered the bench comprising Justices Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna. A pro-tem speaker needs to be appointed immediately, who will administer oath to the new MLAs tomorrow morning. The floor test will held thereafter at 5 PM.
The Supreme Court on Monday had reserved orders on the petition filed by Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress against the decision of Maharashtra Governor to invite Devendra Fadnavis to form government in Maharashtra.
Ordera. Pro-tem Speaker shall be solely appointed for the aforesaid agenda immediately. b. All the elected members shall take oath on 27.11.2019, which exercise should be completed before 5:00 p.m. c. Immediately thereafter, the Pro-tem Speaker shall conduct the floor test in order to ascertain whether the Respondent No. 3 has the majority, and these proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with law. The floor test will not be conducted by secret ballot. d. The proceedings have to be live telecast, and appropriate arrangements are to be made to ensure the same.
Ordera. Pro-tem Speaker shall be solely appointed for the aforesaid agenda immediately.
b. All the elected members shall take oath on 27.11.2019, which exercise should be completed before 5:00 p.m.
c. Immediately thereafter, the Pro-tem Speaker shall conduct the floor test in order to ascertain whether the Respondent No. 3 has the majority, and these proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with law. The floor test will not be conducted by secret ballot.
d. The proceedings have to be live telecast, and appropriate arrangements are to be made to ensure the same.
Reading out the order, Justice Ramana said that constitutional morality needs to be promoted while finding a way to balance opposing claims. There exists a dispute in the role of the judiciary in respect of legislative proceedings. Institutional comity must exist without judicial interference, the bench added.
"At this interim stage we must find a way to balance the competing claims while promoting constitutional morality at the same time", the order stated.
The Court will decide on the broader issues regarding judicial review of Governor's decision at a later stage. Notice on this aspect has been served on the parties.
On Sunday, after a special Sunday sitting, the the bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna had called for the correspondences between Fadnavis and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to be produced on Monday at 10.30 AM.
Yesterday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta produced the communications. Reading out Fadnavis's letter, Mehta said that NCP leader Ajit Pawar had extended support of entire 54 MLAs of NCP in the capacity of its legislative party head. The Goveror Bhagat Singh Koshyari invited Fadnavis to form government, acknowledging that he had support of 170 MLAs including independent legislators. The SG added that the Governor cannot undertake a "roving enquiry" at that stage.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi stoutly opposed the Court advancing the floor test. He said that the Governor enjoyed special immunity from judicial review under Article 361 of the Constitution. Also, the Court cannot regulate the procedure in the assembly house, Rohatgi argued based on Article 212 of the Constitution.
In short, both SG and Rohatgi opposed the Court fixing the time for floor test, though they agreed to the proposition that floor test was the best method to test majority.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Shiv Sena, termed the hasty revocation of President's rule at 5:47 AM on Saturday and the following sweraring-in ceremony held secertively a "mala fide" exercise.
Senior Advocate Dr A M Singhvi, appearing for NCP, contested the claims of SG Tushar Mehta regarding NCP support. He submitted that the letter produced by Mehta was the one concerning the election of Pawar as legislative party head of NCP. There was no mention of any of the MLAs extending support to BJP to form government, Singhvi added.
The combine of Congress- NCP-Shiv Sena filed the petition on Saturday night challenging the decision of Maharashtra Governor to invite BJP to form government in Maharashtra, which was placed under President's rule on November 12 in view of the political stalemate.
Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP claim that they formed a post-poll alliance named "Maha Vikas Aghadi" having 154 members in the 288 member house and had announced Uddhav Thackarey as the CM on Friday night. However, in a surprising move, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister today morning, after the President's rule was revoked during the wee hours of Saturday.
As per the petition, the BJP has not placed any objective material before the Governor for showing majority. No demonstration either by letters of support or by parading of MLAs has been done by the BJP. The BJP clearly falls short of the halfway mark of 144. In any event the BJP cannot get the support of majority through legal constitutional means in the face of the anti-defection provisions of the Tenth Schedule.
The petitioners sought a declaration from a Court that Governor's decision to invite Devendra Fadnavis to form the Government as "unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void-ab-initio, and violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India".
Further, the petitioners requested the Court to direct the Governor to invite their alliance to form government under the leadership of Uddhav Thackarey.
The petitioners also prayed for an immediate floor test within twenty-four hours so as to "avoid further horse trading and illegal maneuvers". The Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has given the Fadnavis government time till November 30 to prove majority in the house.
Read the Order Here