Maha political crisis ends after SC orders floor test

The Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar side, for their part, said the top court should not intervene in the matter, though it maintained that floor test was imperative. Photo/AFP

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed for conducting a floor test in Maharashtra Assembly on November 27, precipitating resignations of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his deputy Ajit Pawar within hours and ending the three-day-long political imbroglio in the state.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna said it is necessary and expedient to conduct the floor test as soon as possible to determine whether the chief minister has the support of the majority or not.

“In a situation wherein, if the floor test is delayed, there is a possibility of horse-trading, it becomes incumbent upon the court to act to protect democratic values. An immediate floor test, in such a case, might be the most effective mechanism to do so,” the bench said, as it asked the Governor’s office to conduct the floor test on Wednesday.

The court also noted that elected members were not administered oath even though a month has elapsed since October 24 when Assembly election results were declared. “In such emergent facts and circumstances, 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,” the bench said.

The court also spelt out the procedure for conducting the floor test like the appointment of pro-tem Speaker, administering the oath to MLAs before 5 pm on Wednesday, no secret ballot in floor test and live telecast of the proceedings.

The top court relied upon past instances related to G Parmeshwara case (2018) of Karnataka, Chandrakant Kavlekar (2017) of Goa, Harish C Rawat case (2016) of Uttarakhand, Jagdambika Pal case (1999) of Uttar Pradesh and the Constitution bench judgement in the S R Bommai case, among others, to pass its order.

The Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar side, for their part, said the top court should not intervene in the matter, though it maintained that floor test was imperative.

In the matter, the top court held a special sitting on Sunday.

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