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Maharashtra Crisis: Supreme Court orders open ballot floor test tomorrow

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 26 November 2019, 10:56 IST
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday passed its order over a joint petition filed by Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party against the decision of the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to invite BJP to form the government in the state. The apex court has ordered Floor Test in the Maharashtra assembly to be held on November 27. The proceedings shall be live telecast.

Pro-tem Speaker should be appointed to conduct Floor Test which should be completed before 5 pm tomorrow, the top court ordered. 

A three-Judge Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana passed the orders at 10.30am today on the petition filed by Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress against the decision of Maharashtra Governor to invite Devendra Fadnavis to form government in Maharashtra.

The petitions were filed after BJP's Devendra Fadnavis took oath for the second consecutive term as the state Chief Minister, with NCP's Ajit Pawar as his Deputy Chief Minister on Saturday morning.

This came when deliberations among Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena on the government formation had reached the final stage.

On the directions of the top court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra Governor's office, handed over an original letter of Governor inviting BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis to form a government.

Mehta said that the Governor, in absolute discretion, invited the largest party [BJP] to form the government on November 23.

"Devendra Fadnavis staked claim following the letter of NCP's Ajit Pawar along with letters of support of 11 independent and other MLAs. The Governor then wrote to the President and requested for revocation of the President's Rule; Governor in his wisdom invited the leader of the largest party," he submitted.

The Solicitor General added that Fadnavis has a support of 170 MLAs. He also sought two-three days' time from the court to file a reply by asserting that he wants to place additional material on record.

Meanwhile, Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Maharashtra BJP, echoed similar sentiments and said that the governor has an absolute discretion to appoint the Chief Minister.

"Judicial review not permitted. The floor test is imperative. But it is the discretion of the Speaker to decide when the floor test is to be held," he said.

Senior Advocate, Maninder Singh next made his submissions on behalf of NCP's Ajit Pawar and said that there was nothing contrary to show that his client was not the NCP leader as of November 22.

"My list [granting support to BJP] was constitutionally, legally correct. There is nothing to show that I was not the NCP leader on November 22. I will resolve disputes within my party but this petition must end now," Singh told the court on behalf of Ajit Pawar.

The contentions were made after NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that the decision to support the BJP was not backed by him and was his nephew's [Ajit Pawar] personal one.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Shiv Sena, said, "What was the national emergency that President rule was revoked at 5.17 am and swearing-in was at 8 am? President Rule was revoked at 5.17 am which means everything happened before 5.17."

He further said that a floor test must be conducted within 24 hours with videography and a single ballot.

Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Congress, referred the move to invite the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra as "murder of democracy".

"What BJP alliance has shown to Court are signatures of 54 NCP MLAs electing Ajit Pawar as legislative party leader. They were not signed in support of joining the BJP alliance to form a government. NCP's support to Ajit Pawar was without any covering letter. How can the Governor turn a blind eye to this," he told the court.

On Monday, NCP legislative party leader Jayant Patil along with Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan and others visited Raj Bhawan and gave a letter showing the strength of 162 MLAs to the officials at Raj Bhavan.

(With Agency Inputs)

Also Read: SC reserves order in petition filed against Maharashtra govt formation

First published: 26 November 2019, 10:51 IST