SC to hear MP political crisis again on March 19

SC to hear Madhya Pradesh political crisis again on March 19

Supreme Court of India. (PTI Photo)

The political crisis in Madhya Pradesh continued to linger a little longer. The much-awaited hearing in the Supreme Court on a plea by former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for a floor test on the resignation of 22 MLAs, remained inconclusive on Wednesday.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta put the petitions including one by MP Congress chief whip Govind Singh for access to 16 rebel MLAs for further consideration on Thursday.

After over three and half hour of arguments, the court asked senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Speaker NP Prajapati, as to why didn't he accept resignations.

"Will you accept their resignation if they appear before you," the bench asked Singhvi, who said the Speaker's discretion can't be curtailed.

On this, the bench cited a recent judgement, making it clear that the Speaker has to decide the matter quickly.

"In all these (previous) orders, the only concern was let there be no horse-trading," the bench said.

To this, Singhvi said, the horse was already under captivity.

MP Cong chief whip, represented by senior advocate Dushyant Dave, said no floor test can take place without the presence of 16 MLAs or there should be a fresh mandate on those seats. He also asked the court to refer the matter to a larger Constitution bench as the people's mandate in a democracy can't be subverted by resignations of MLAs.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for rebel MLAs, contended they were ready to appear before the top court. He maintained the lawmakers did not want to meet any Congress leaders.

Senior counsel Kapil Sibal, representing Chief Minister Kamal Nath, asserted he wanted to meet them.

Singh, for his part, said the MLAs had resigned on their free will and had held a press conference as well.

Dave, on the other hand, invoked the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution to contend that defection can also take place when an MLA resigns, not only when he joins some other party.

To this, the bench, however, said a fixed tenure was not what a Constitutional scheme said.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Chouhan, asked the court to issue an interim order for floor test as the CM has been trying to buy time in defiance of the Governor's orders.

"These MLAs have resigned, they will go back to voters if they have to. It is not a case of defection or merger," he asserted.

Rohatgi alleged that because of the lust of power, all the lofty arguments were being made.

"It is unheard of that a person who has lost majority and cannot continue even for a day, says he wants to continue for 6 months, there should be re-election and then a trust vote," he said.

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