SC gives two weeks to BJP, Cong to respond to AAP's plea

Last Updated 31 March 2014, 14:16 IST

The Supreme Court today granted two weeks to both BJP and Congress to make its stand clear whether either of them is in any position to stake claim for government formation in Delhi in the wake of the Assembly being kept under suspended animation following the resignation of Aam Aadmi Party Government.

A bench comprising justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph said the matter "cannot be in limbo" and asked both the parties to come out with their stands by April 17.

AAP, which has been crying foul on the imposition of President's rule in Delhi, has also contended that keeping the Assembly under suspended animation for a year would invite horse trading.

Senior advocates P S Patwalia and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the BJP, submitted that the court should wait till the conclusion of the general elections when the Lt Governor would be in a better position to judge whether any party could form the government.

The BJP, which was the single largest party and sat in opposition during Arvind Kejriwal's 49-day regime, also said government formation by any party is a political decision and for which it will require to call a meeting of its parliamentary board.

In the 70-member Delhi Assembly, AAP with 28 seats and the support of eight-member Congress had formed the government. BJP has 31 seats and the support of one Akali member.

Congress, which was represented by senior advocate K Parasaran, said LG was not made a party in the matter.

The apex court, which earlier had kept the two parties away from the hearing, decided to know their stand, after noting that neither the BJP nor the Congress had made their position clear on government formation following the resignation of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

During the last hearing on March 7, it took into account the submissions of AAP and the Centre and wanted to know that "after enactment of 10th Schedule of the Constitution whether defection to happen can be a relevant consideration as a ground to keep the Assembly under suspended animation".  The bench had wanted to know from parties as to "how the President's order can say that the Assembly has to be kept under suspended animation for a year."

"What is worrying, legally and constitutionally, is keeping the Assembly under suspended animation for a year may be harmful for democracy," the bench had observed and added "is it not open for the President to recall his order".

The bench, which on February 24 had refrained from involving the BJP and Congress in the matter to avoid "political contest" at judicial forum, had said since the position of the two parties was not clear on staking claim for government formation, their view has to be elicited.

The apex court had also perused the LG's report and said the Assembly was not dissolved as he was of the view that it was not in the interest of the citizens to hold the election in short interval and further time should be granted for exploring the possibility of government formation.

The Centre has justified before the apex court that its decision of not dissolving the Delhi Assembly was taken in "public interest" as there was a possibility of BJP staking claim to form a government.

The Centre in its affidavit had also contended that holding elections in such a short time was not in public interest as recommended by the LG.

"There were two reasons given (by LG) that is election had been concluded in the first week of December and the government was formed only on December 28, 2013 and therefore in the circumstances it was not expedient or in the interest of the public to hold the next elections in such a short time," the affidavit had said.

"The governor further stated that in the circumstances the option of any other political party or alliance to stake a claim in the near future should not be closed," the government had said.  The Centre had submitted that reasons given by LG were correct, relevant and deserved acceptance particularly in the context of the fluid situation in the legislative assembly.

"In this scenario, as pointed out by the LG, the possibility of the BJP staking a claim to form the government could not be ruled out," the affidavit had said.

The affidavit was filed in response to apex court issuing notice to it on February 24 on a petition filed by AAP challenging imposition of President's rule in Delhi.

AAP approached the court seeking a direction to the LG to dissolve Delhi Assembly and hold fresh polls along with Lok Sabha elections.

(Published 31 March 2014, 14:15 IST)

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