Apex court order on floor test welcome

supreme court

The Supreme Court’s order that a floor test should be held in the Karnataka Assembly by 4 pm on Saturday to decide on the claim of majority support for Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa will hopefully put an end to the most undesirable and murky political situation that has developed in the state after the elections. The order is welcome on many counts. It will shift the trial of strength between the two sides — the JD(S)-Congress combine and the BJP — to the only legal and legitimate forum for such tests. Both sides are making claims of majority support in the public realm and in the media now. The people are unable to know the veracity of the claims. The court’s order shows that Governor Vajubhai Vala’s decision to swear in Yeddyurappa as the chief minister may have been of dubious legal merit. Importantly, it also shows Vala’s decision to grant 15 days’ time for Yeddyurappa to prove his strength in the Assembly as bad and unjustified.

The court’s ruling is a major setback to the BJP and Yeddyurappa. It strengthens the charge that the governor acted with bias and accepted Yeddyurappa’s claim of support without questions and scrutiny. The court had asked for the letters given by Yeddyurappa to the governor staking his claim to form the government. The letters did not show that he had majority support in the House. He could only have got that support through defections from the Congress and the JD(S). While Yeddyurappa stated in public that he wanted only one week to prove his majority, he was given two weeks for that. By ordering the floor test to be held immediately, the court has tried to avert the possibility of horse-trading and winning over of legislators from the other side through coercion or other means. The reduction of the time given for the test from two weeks to just over a day, therefore, amounts to a censure of the governor. The court did not put its criticism in so many words perhaps out of consideration for the constitutional status of the governor.

The court has directed that the floor test be conducted by the Pro-tem Speaker. It is unfortunate that the governor has appointed K G Bopaiah as the Pro-tem Speaker, violating the convention of appointing the seniormost member of the House. The Supreme Court had passed strictures against Bopaiah for his conduct as Speaker between 2009 and 2013. The House has been summoned, and it is an important day for the state. It should be ensured that the test is held in the freest and fair manner.

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Apex court order on floor test welcome

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