Yeddyurappa has to take floor test tomorrow: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court Friday ordered Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa to demonstrate before the state legislative assembly that he enjoys support of the majority of its members, curtailing the 15-day period provided to him by Governor Vajubhai Vala.
The floor test will be taken at 4 pm Saturday and a pro-tem speaker will decide the evenutalities in accordance with law, a three-judge Bench said. It barred the newly elected government from taking any major policy decision until then.
The apex court also ordered the state government and the Governor to not nominate any member from the Anglo-Indian community to the House and directed the state police chief to ensure security of all MLAs.
A suggestion that the floor test be conducted by secret ballot was rejected.
The Bench of Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan was listening to a petition by Karnataka Congress chief G Paremeshwara and Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy against the decision of Governor Vajubhai Vala to invite the Bharatiya Janata Party to form government.
“Let the House decide and the best course would be floor test,” the Bench said while clarifying that it will deal with the constitutionality of Vala's decision later.
Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who argued for the represented the Congress-JD(S) MLAs, termed the orders historic.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi representing Yeddyurappa, opposed the floor test on Saturday and pleaded for it be conducted on Monday. He also submitted letters sent by the CM to the Governor staking claim to form the government.
Earlier in a pre-dawn hearing on Thursday on an urgent basis, the Bench had asked for the letters to the Governor, while refusing to stay Yeddyurappa's swearing-in. The rare hearing took place after Singhvi approached the top court with the petition seeking to stall the oath-taking ceremony scheduled hours laterm, at 9 AM Thursday.
Yeddyurappa, through his counsel told the court that Congress-JS(S) tie-up was not a pre-poll alliance and the BJP being the single-largest party had the people’s mandate and rightfully staked claim.
Meanwhile, the Congress which has shifted all its newly elected Karnataka MLAs to Hyderabad to prevent them from poaching, continued to target the Governor Vala and the BJP while hailing the court’s order.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi celebrated the order:
Today’s Supreme Court order, vindicates our stand that Governor Vala acted unconstitutionally.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 18, 2018
The BJP’s bluff that it will form the Govt., even without the numbers, has been called out by the court.
Stopped legally, they will now try money & muscle, to steal the mandate.
Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah too attacked the governor:
"Governor is listening to Shah & Modi instead of following the Constitution. What the Governor did was a murder of democracy. Yeddyurappa had asked for seven days but Governor gave him 15 days to prove majority! It shows clear collusion with BJP": @siddaramaiah#SaveDemocracyDay pic.twitter.com/pIvVqRVOfb— Karnataka Congress (@INCKarnataka) May 18, 2018
Meanwhile the BJP asserted Yeddyurappa will be supported by more than 120 MLAs.
“The Supreme Court has ordered to prove majority in the assembly tomorrow at 4 pm. BJP welcomes this. We are confident that tomorrow at 4 pm BJP legislators and those supporting it will prove majority," Karnataka BJP General Secretary Shobha Karandlaje said.
Ashwani Kumar, law minister in the previous Manmohan Singh Cabinet, said the court’s order would play a major role in ensuring that governors exercise discretion fairly: “The Court’s order is a vindication of democracy, vindication of the Constitution. I believe the court has vindicated itself as the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution. I believe the decision of the Governor to call Yeddyurappa to form the government was wholly unconstitutional and politically unethical.
“The exercise of discretion under Article 164 (of the Constitution) is in nature of sovereign prerogative. But it is predicated on the assumption that the power of discretion will be fairly and honestly exercised.”