Fadnavis govt has no legal validity, says ex-SC Judge Sawant

Fadnavis govt has no legal validity, says ex-SC Judge Sawant

The BJP government in Maharashtra which won a controversial trust vote last week has no constitutional validity, former Supreme Court Judge P B Sawant today said.

The Devendra Fadnavis government won the trust motion in Maharashtra Assembly on November 12 through a voice vote.

Opposition Shiv Sena and Congress had reacted angrily to the way the vote was won and accused BJP of failing to prove its majority in the House and "strangulating democracy".

Both parties had pressed for division of votes. Sawant said "division of votes (ballot voting) is a must for a minority Government to prove its majority. The constitutionally ordained process was to hold test on the floor of the House. Besides, the test should be openly and objectively demonstrated and ascertained publicly in House."

Sawant, who was on nine-Judge Bench that delivered the landmark verdict in SR Bommai vs Union of India case in 1994 on imposing President's rule and proving majority on the floor of the House, was delivering a lecture on "Undemocratic Minority Government" organised by Jawaharlal Forum for Peace and Justice.

Citing precedents, he said as per the Sarkaria Commission, confidence in a ministry is to be determined in the House. If a Chief Minister fails to do this, the Governor is duty-bound to form an alternative ministry.

In the present case, Sawant said, the ruling BJP should have gone for division of votes during the floor test to demonstrate majority. "This government is unconstitutional and illegal, And has no right to stay in office."

"The Chief Minister is now putting the onus on the Opposition to bring a no confidence motion against his government and prove he does not enjoy confidence of the House. This is nothing but subversion of the law," he said.

Sawant asked Congress to handle the issue rising above party politics. "Democratic principles and rules are at stake and the Constitution must be upheld. Parties and Governments come and go. But anti-democratic and unconstitutional precedents should not be set as they are dangerous."

The ex-Judge maintained that even the voice vote was not carried out as per norms.

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