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Supreme Court:  After hearing the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena’s plea today against the decision of the Maharashtra Governor inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the Government for 2 days, the 3-judge bench of N.V. Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has said that it will pronounce the verdict tomorrow.

The Governor’s order on November 23, inviting Fadnavis to form a government & correspondence/letter of Fadnavis to the Governor claiming majority was produced before the Court today.

Submissions before the Court on Day 2 of the hearing:

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta:

  • Maharashtra governor was cognizant of facts, situation after polls results that had led to invoking of President rule in state
  • After being assured that no party was in position to form government in Maha, governor recommended President rule in state
  • Maharashta Governor had invited Shiv Sena, BJP and NCP for government formation, President’s rule was imposed only after they failed
  • Governor not supposed to conduct roving, fishing inquiry to ascertain which party has numbers to form Government
  • Question is can a party come, seek court’s intervention to hold floor test within 24 hours
  • Nobody is disputing that floor test is ultimate test, no party can say it has to be conducted in 24 hours
  • Particular time frame cannot be asked to be implemented on mere apprehension of particular party
  • Grant us 2-3 days’ time. Let us file reply

Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for BJP

  • Ajit Pawar had support of 54 NCP MLAs so governor asked him to form Government
  • It’s nobody’s case that letters have been forged, Maharashtra governor acted correctly so it is end of their case
  • Now question is can this court say whether floor test can be ordered within a particular time frame
  • Governor’s action, calling a party to form government, is immune from judicial review
  • Matter fraught with serious consequences, governor’s discretionary power cannot be judicially reviewed
  • 5-judge bench supposed to examine power of Speaker in such matters
  • No case for grant of interim order has been made out by Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress
  • Procedures of assembly like pro-tem speaker cannot be interfered with
  • Shiv Sena, NCP, Cong are asking SC to decide how Governor and Assembly should act. Parties are seeking direction to governor, who is immune, to act as per their wishes
  • Court cannot interfere with House procedure regulated by Assembly rules

Kapil Sibal, appearing for Shiv Sena

  • Where was national emergency to revoke President’s rule at 5.27 am and CM being administered oath at 8 am next morning
  • If BJP has numbers, then they be asked to prove majority within 24 hours

Sr. Adv. A M Singhvi appearing for Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Congress

  • It’s fraud of worst kind, did a single NCP MLA tell Ajit Pawar that he supported him to go with BJP
  • Both sides agree that floor test is ultimate, BJP does not want it quickly
  • If BJP has majority, why is it worried? I am happy to lose on floor of Maharashtra Assembly

The Court asked Sr. Adv. A M Singhvi appearing for Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Congress to withdraw fresh plea with affidavits of 154 Maha MLAs supporting combine as it has not been supplied to BJP. It said,

“Whatever you file in court, you need to give to other side”

AM Singhvi withdrew the plea and said that he was as referring to affidavits of 154 Maha MLAs to shock court’s conscience that majority was with them.

(Source: PTI)


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Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court’s three-judge bench comprising of N.V. Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ., heard the Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena’s plea today against the decision of the Maharashtra Governor inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the Government.

Petitioners had requested the Supreme Court to order a floor test to held on Sunday itself.

Counsel representing the parties:

Shiv Sena: Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal

NCP: Senior Advocate Dr A M Singhvi

BJP: Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Order given by Supreme Court in Today’s Hearing:

Supreme Court issues notice to Centre, Maharashtra Govt, Devendra Fadnavis & Ajit Pawar on Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena’s plea. Court requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to produce relevant documents from Guv’s letter for inviting BJP to form govt & letter of support of MLAs by 10.30 am tomorrow.

“We have taken note of all the arguments, particularly the argument that the Governor’s decision dated 23-11-2019 inviting the Respondent No.3 to form a Government on 23-11-2019 is unconstitutional. With regard to the second prayer as at `b’, we are not going to consider the same at present. As adjudication of the issues and also the interim prayers sought by the petitioners to conduct floor test within 24 hours has to be considered after perusing the order of the Governor as well as the letters submitted by Mr. Devendra Fadnavis – Respondent No 3, even though none appeared for the State Government, we request Mr Tushar Mehta to produce those two letters by tomorrow morning at 10.30 a.m. when the matter will be taken up, so that appropriate order will be passed.”

Issue involved is the Governor’s decision dated 23/11/19 inviting them to form a government is unconstitutional.

Following are the documents to be produced tomorrow:

— Governor’s order on November 23, inviting Fadnavis to form a government

— The correspondence/letter of Fadnavis to the Governor claiming majority

[Shiv Sena v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1501, decided on 24-11-2019]


Live Tweets from the Hearing:

  • #MaharashtraPolitics #KapilSibal appearing for #ShivaSena in SC, on Shiv Sena, NCP & Congress’ plea against the decision of Guv inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form govt: Court should order floor test today itself.
  • #Singhvi contends that How did Ajit Pawar become NCP when 41 of 54 elected NCP members signed a document at 3.30 pm on Nov 22 saying Pawar is not NCP legislative party leader.
  • #AbhishekManuSinghvi: Obligations of the Governor is to form a prima facie satisfaction of the majority on a written document. The document must have signatures, physical verification, satisfaction based on these things. This is the criterion.
  • #Rohatgi says there was no need for a Sunday hearing Justice Bhushan says that it is a prerogative of the #chiefjusticeofindia
  • Referring to the Jagadambika Pal case, #Singhvi says, “The only agenda would be to conduct a floor test between the competing parties. This is composite. May the best man win.
  • #Rohatgi: There are some things that are with the President which are not even open to judicial intervention.
  • #Rohatgi: Governor’s decision made yesterday is not open for judicial review. Art. 361, the President or Governor shall not be answerable to any court.
  • Ramana J.: These issues have been settled. Governor cannot just appoint anyone.
  • #MaharashtraCM #Rohatgi: Can the SC order the Governor to advance floor test? The petition is without annexures, they don’t know anything, they were sleeping for three weeks.
  • There is no supporting document to their claims. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for some BJP and independent MLAs, says this plea should have been filed in Bombay HC.
  • Sibal: Fadnavis has numbers, let him prove it on the floor of House, else we have numbers to form govt in Maha
  • Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress seeks SC direction for the composite floor test today itself.
  • Act of Governor recommending revocation of President’s rule ‘smacks’ of bias: Sibal to SC hearing Maha case

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Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: In yet another high-profile election drama, when the Congress-JDS approached the Supreme Court at late hours of Wednesday to stall the swearing in ceremony of BJP candidate BS Yeddyurappa as the Karnataka Chief Minister after the Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala asked him to seek trust votes in the floor test within 15 days of his swearing in, the 3-judge bench of Dr AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, JJ directed:

“As far as swearing-in is concerned, we are not restraining it, but we are making it subject to the outcome of the case.”

In the hearing that began at 01:45 AM, Congress-JDS contended that despite presenting the list of 116 MLAs, governor Vajubhai Vala has invited the BJP which has 104 MLAs to form the government and has given relatively longer time of 15 days to prove the majority on the floor of the House.

Below are the highlights of the midnight drama that transpired post Karnataka Election:

  • Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi (For Congress-JDS):
    • There are innumerable instances where combination of post-poll group was called despite there was a different single largest party, one such instance being the Goa Elections Goa where BJP outnumbering single largest party was called to form the Government and the Supreme Court had upheld this.
    • We are challenging the act of Governor not calling us. Should a person be given 15 days for proving majority? Governor can’t negate democracy and after the swearing in happens I can’t come to Supreme Court.
    • 104 ahead of 116 is adding insult to the injury. Giving 15 days is encouraging unconstitutional sin of poaching.
  • Bench: it is to be considered whether the Court can restrain a Governor,
  • Singhvi: Governor action is subject to judicial review. The argument is court should not issue injunction and judicial review is not the question.
  • Bench: We don’t even have the letter other party has written to governor.  How can we decide?
  • Singhvi: In Meghalaya, Manipur and Goa, Congress was the single-largest party but BJP and other parties were invited to form Government. Governor’s exercise of Government duty is under judicial review. Court can question Governor. Supreme Court can defer the swearing-in.
  • Bench: You want us to scrutinise discretion of governor but you don’t have letter given to governor which found basis for inviting BJP.
  • Singhvi: Governor doesn’t give any reason in calling BJP. Claim of BS Yeddyurappa is leader of BJP whereas Kumaraswamy is claiming Congress support. Unless Supreme Court sees Mr Yeddyurappa’s letter to the Governor, the court can defer the swearing-in. On what basis the governor invited BS Yeddyurappa.

_____________________________________________________________________________

  • Attorney General KK Venugopal (For BJP): Defection is one member crosses to other party. Defection law won’t apply before he is swearing in as MLA.
  • Bench: You mean before swearing in MLAs can switch sides? In a case like this how you will have more numbers when the other side has already given 116 to Governor. JDS and Congress outweigh BJP. In a situation like this on what basis Mr Yeddyurappa has staked claimed. The arithmetic defies in what way he was invited to form Government.
  • AG: Even if swearing-in takes place it is reversible. Once the floor test takes place real picture will be known.
  • Bench: Why 15 days were given by the governor?
  • AG: It is governor’s decision. Waiting for 15 days heavens will not fall. What’s the purpose of stopping the swearing-in? Let the floor test take place.
  • Bench: Your argument is floor test will fail.
  • AG: We don’t know.
  • Bench: What’s bothering us is the fluid situation.
  • AG: The the time given to BJP for proving majority can be reduced to seven days

_____________________________________________________________________________

  • Former Attorney General and Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi (For BJP): This case should have never been taken up at midnight.
  • Bench: On what basis you are claiming?
  • Rohatgi: 
    • Heavens won’t fall if someone is sworn in. Last time Supreme Court heard in night, the case related to hanging of Yakub Memon.
    • Congress wants injunction and wants governor not to discharge his function. Action of swearing can always be reversed by Supreme Court.
    • Question is can court stop governor from discharging his constitutional duty? Can Supreme Court stop President from signing warrant of appointing judges? Job of governor is to give oath – whether right or wrong.
    • Supreme Court can’t ask governor to file affidavit and can’t issue notice.
  • Bench: Is this your interpretation that governor action amenable but the governor as individual not answerable to court?
  • Rohatgi: 
    • Yes. Governor can’t be stopped to do his job. It is unheard of.
    • Supreme Court can reduce time period from 15 to 10 or 7 days for BJP to prove majority.

_____________________________________________________________________________

  • Bench: Swearing in will go on.
  • Singhvi: Don’t stay the swearing-in but defer it for two days. Defer swearing-in for at least till 4.30 and ask Mr Yeddyurappa to produce the letter he gave to the governor.
  • Bench: This petition is a subject of hearing later on.

Supreme Court issued notice to BS Yeddyurappa and other respondent’s and listed the matter for further hearing on 18.05.2018. The Court, in it’s order, said:

“it is necessary to peruse the letters dated 15th May, 2018 and 16th May, 2018 submitted by the respondent No.3 to the Governor which find a mention in the communication dated16th May, 2018 of the Hon’ble Governor.”

Without passing any order staying the oath ceremony of the new Karanataka Chief Minsiter, the Court said:

“In case, he is given oath in the meantime, that shall be subject to further orders of this Court and final outcome of the writ petition.”

[Dr. G. Parmeshwara v. Union of India, WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) Diary No.19482/2018, order dated 17.05.2018]

(With inputs from NDTV)

Appointments & Transfers

  • Shri Ram Naik has been appointed as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh w.e.f the date he assume charge of his office; 
  • Shri Balramji Dass Tandon has been appointed as the Governor of Chhattisgarh w.e.f the date he assume charge of his office; 
  • Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi has been appointed as the Governor of West Bengal w.e.f the date he assume charge of his office; 
  • Shri Om Prakash Kohli has been appointed as the Governor of Gujarat w.e.f the date he assume charge of his office. 
  • Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya has been appointed as the Governor of Nagaland. The President has also appointed him, to discharge the functions of the Governor of Tripura, in addition to his own duties, until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of Tripura are made