SC order on Maharashtra floor test on Nov 26 morning

SC order on Maharashtra floor test on Nov 26 morning

Political uncertainty in Maharashtra to continue longer 

Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala, Prithviraj Chavan and Mukul Wasnik address the media after a hearing at the Supreme Court on Monday. PTI

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would pass its order on a plea by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine on the issue of holding a floor test on Tuesday.

After hearing the arguments put forth by both the sides, who differed on the timing of the floor test, a bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna said it would pass the order at 10.30 am. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Governor’s Secretary, presented the letters submitted by Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar.

The letters, in which they claimed support of 105 BJP MLAs and 54 of the NCP along with some independent legislators, led Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to swear in Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar as chief minister and deputy chief minister respectively in a dramatic turn of events on the morning of Nov 23.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek M Singhvi, appearing for the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress respectively, pressed for an immediate floor test, with Singhvi contending that Ajit Pawar has already been removed.

“It is a fraud on democracy and it is a crime of the worst kind as the Governor went by a letter without any explicit indication by MLAs from the NCP for their support to Fadnavis. He went by signature of MLAs electing Ajit Pawar as their leader,” Singhvi said. Singhvi sought to produce the affidavit by NCP MLAs contrary to claims by the BJP and Ajit Pawar, but the court advised against it.

Sibal, claiming to have an affidavit of 154 MLAs, wondered as to what was the national emergency to revoke President’s rule on Saturday, other than to prevent the Maha Vikas Aghadi led by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to stake claim to form the government.

Mukul Rohatgi, who represented Fadnavis, contended the Governor had already given time to the government to prove majority, and that the top court should not interfere in the matter. He claimed the support of 170 MLAs.

“There is no case for ad interim order. Question is, if a quasi judicial authority of the Speaker can be issued orders (for floor test),” he asked.

At this point, Justice Khanna said, “In every case, the court has ordered floor test to be held within 24 hours. The majority is decided not by the Governor but on the floor of the House.”

“Floor test is imperative. The Governor acted wisely and has given time for a floor test. Where is the ground for the Supreme Court to fix a time line? Floor test can happen any time. Nothing is left in this case,” Rohatgi said.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Ajit Pawar-led NCP, said the list of support given by him was legally and constitutionally correct.

“I am the NCP. The Supreme Court had said in the Karnataka disqualified MLAs case that it would not allow leapfrogging in such cases,” he said, indicating the petitioners should not have directly approached the top court.

The Solicitor General said, “Grant us two or three days time. It is not that an impostor is going to function as the CM. Here the entire stubble (Shiv Sena) has gone to the other side, it is not a case of horse-trading.”

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