SC orders Madhya Pradesh floor test on March 20

MP political crisis: SC directs assembly session tomorrow, floor test by 5pm

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered floor test in Madhya Pradesh Assembly on March 20, sounding death knell for the Kamal Nath government, tottering on resignation of 22 rebel Congress MLAs.

After two-day long hearing, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta directed for preponing the Assembly on Friday with a single agenda if incumbent CM enjoyed the confidence of the House.

"The state of uncertainty in Madhya Pradesh must be effectively resolved by issuing a direction for convening a floor test," the bench said.

The court ordered that the floor test would be conducted by 5 pm through show of hands in a peaceful manner without any breach of law. The proceedings should be videographed or live telecast, in accordance with the rules, it said.

Madhya Pradesh govt crisis Live

Nath was sworn in as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on December 17, 2018 with a wafer thin majority of 114 MLAs in 228-member Assembly. He faced the most serious trouble after his party colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia switched side to BJP and 22 MLAs, owing allegiance to him, resigned earlier this month.

Speaker N P Prajapati accepted resignation of six MLAs, who were ministers in the Nath government. However, he preferred to wait in case of 16 other rebel MLAs seeking their personal presence. The rebels, for their part, continued to hole up in Bengaluru.

Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Shivraj Chauhan on Monday approached the top court for conducting floor test, as the Speaker on Monday adjourned the House to March 26, in view of Coronavirus scare. The BJP with 107 MLAs would enjoy majority in reduced strength of the House after resignation of 22 MLAs.

Rebel MLAs also filed a plea, saying they do want to meet either the party leaders or the Speaker after their resignation on their own volition.

MP Congress chief whip Govind Singh contended before the court that floor test can't take place without presence of 16 MLAs or there should be fresh mandate on those seats. He claimed the MLAs were held in captivity.

During the hearing, senior advocates A M Singhvi, Dushyant Dave, Kapil Sibal, Vivek Tankha and Harin Raval questioned the validity of Governor Lalji Tandon's communications for floor test, saying he can't intervene into the proceedings inside the House. They dared opposition BJP to bring in no confidence motion.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Governor and Mukul Rohatgi and Mr Maninder Singh for Shivraj and rebel MLAs contended that the Chief Minister and the Speaker purposefully delayed the floor test to indulge in horse trading after losing the faith of legislators.

In its order, the court relied upon S R Bommai case (9-judge in 1994) and Nabam Rebia (5-judge in 2016) for floor test. 

The bench also directed the Police chief of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh to ensure 16 MLAs would not face any restraint or hindrance on "taking recourse to their rights and liberties as citizens", if they or any of them opted to attend the session of the Legislative Assembly.

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