Maharashtra Political Crisis| Floor test to be conducted on tomorrow; Proceedings to be live telecast [Full Report]

“There is no gainsaying that the boundaries between the jurisdiction of Courts and Parliamentary independence have been contested for a long time. However, there is a need and requirement for recognizing institutional comity and separation of powers so as to tailor judicial   interference in the democratic processes only as a last resort.”

Supreme Court: In the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena’s plea against the decision of the Maharashtra Governor inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the Government, the 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has ordered that Floor Test be held tomorrow i.e. on November 27, 2019 before 5PM.

The Court noticed oath has not been administered to the elected members even though a month has elapsed since the declaration of election results. It, hence, said,

“In such emergent facts and circumstances, to curtail unlawful practices such as horse trading, to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate   smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable Government, we are of the considered opinion that it is necessary to pass certain interim directions in this case.”

The Court said that it was necessary and expedient to conduct the floor test as soon as possible to determine whether the Chief Minister, who was administered the oath of office, has the support of the majority or not. The Court, hence, passed the following directions:

  • Pro­tem Speaker shall be solely appointed for conducting the floor test.
  • All the elected members shall take oath on 27.11.2019, which exercise should be completed before 5:00 p.m.
  • Immediately thereafter, the Pro­tem Speaker shall conduct the floor test in order to ascertain whether Devendra Fadnavis has the majority. The floor test will not be conducted by secret ballot.
  • The proceedings have to be live telecast, and appropriate arrangements are to be made to ensure the same.

The Court, however, said that Article 212 of the Constitution, relied on by the Respondents, would have no application as it relates to validity of proceedings in the Legislature of a State that cannot be called in question in any court on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure. Clause (2) states that no officer or member of the legislature of a State, in whom powers are vested by or under the Constitution for regulating the procedure, conduct of business or for maintaining order, in the Legislature shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of exercise of those powers by him. Sub­-Article (2) has no application because no act of any officer or member of the Legislature of the State has been made the subject matter of the present Petition before this Court.

Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Indian National Congress had filed a joint plea against the decision of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the government.

The parties have sought quashing of the Governor’s decision saying the Governor’s decision is “unconstitutional, arbitrary, illegal, void-ab-initio, and violative of Article 14 of Constitution of India”. The plea also seeks direction to the Governor to invite the alliance of Maha Vikas Aghadi comprising of the Shiv Sena, Indian National Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party which has the support of more than 144 MLAs to form the Government under the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray.

[Shiv Sena v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1502, decided on 26.11.2019]

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