Oppn says horse-trading is behind the downfall of government, SC firm on ‘floor test’ in the midst of political turmoil

 

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) The Opposition has accused the ruling administration for causing political turmoil in several states across India as elected government officials are in danger of being overthrown because of horse-trading. As the political turmoil rages Parties look to and look to the Supreme Court to neutralise an attempt to overthrow elected government.

In February of 2016, the highest court’s decision to lift the status quo order for Arunachal Pradesh cleared the road to a withdrawal of the emergency as well as the possibility of the formation of a new government with the rebel Congress chief Kalikho Pul as chief minister. Pul was appointed chief minister on February 19th, 2016 was in office until July 2016. Pul was deposed from the office following an order from the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court. In July of 2016 the Constitution bench ruled the governor’s move of advancing the NabamTuki floor test between January 2016 and December 2015 was not constitutional since there was no indication that Tuki was losing the majority of the vote at the time.

On the 13th of July the 2016 decision in Nabam Rebia vs the Deputy Speaker of Arunachal Pradesh highest court weighed in on whether the governor is required to make this decision at his discretion or with the advice and aid by the Council of Ministers. “In an event in which the Governor has reason to think that the Chief Minister as well as his Council of Ministers have lost the trust of the House and the House is in doubt, it is possible to the Governor to demand that the Chief Minister as well as his Council of Ministers to prove their majority in the House through an examination of the floor. In a case where the government that is in place during the conduct of the floor test is believed as having lost the confidence of the majority of the House, it will be a possibility for Governors to exercise the powers conferred upon him by Article 174 on his owndiscretion, without advice or assistance,” noted the top judge in its decision of 2016.

In May of 2016 The Supreme Court gave a severe shock on the NDA government when it directed an ex-chief minister from Uttarakhand, Harish Singh Rawat to cast a ‘vote in confidence in the House of the Assembly on May 10, and declared a suspension of the president’s rule over the state for a period of 10.30 a.m. until 1.30 p.m. the 10th of May the day that the floor test was due to be conducted. The court’s top judge refused to allow nine rebel Congress MLAs who were barred by the speaker to take part in the confidence vote.

The court in May of 2018 Apex court issued an order to Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa to show his support for the majority of the Assembly. The court cut short the 15-day deadline he received from the governor in order to take a floor test. The court’s decision was based in response to a complaint made by the Congress-Janatada Dal (Secular) alliance against the governor’s invitation at the party’s Yediyurappa to join the government, after a hung House.

The case of Shiv Sena & Ors vs. Union of India & Ors (2019) in which the Supreme Court held that the governor has the power to call the floor test at any time to stop trading in horses. “In an instance where when it is not completed or is delayed, there is a risk of horse-trading, it is an obligation of the court to intervene to safeguard democratic values. A floor test that is immediate, in such a situation is likely to be the most effective way to protect democratic values, according to the highest court.

in Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s case vs. the Speaker of Madhya Pradesh (2020), the apex court stated: “In a situation where the Governor has reason to think it is likely that Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister is no longer in the confidence of the House Constitutional proprieties require that the matter be settled by requesting the test on the floor. The Governor’s call for a floor examination cannot be considered to have exceeded the boundaries of the constitutional power.”

Then, in Madhya Pradesh, the MLAs of the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp resigned and joined the BJP. Then Congress chief minister Kamal Nath asked the governor to disband the Assembly. The governor, however, demanded a floor test.

The 29th of June, the court comprised of justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala after hearing the lawyers of Shiv Sena and the rebel MLAs Eknath Shinde, as well as the governor for three hours during a late evening court hearing declared: “We do not find any ground to stay convening of the special session of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha on June 30, 2022, i.e, tomorrow at 11.00 a.m. with the only agenda of a trust vote.”

The bench further stated “The proceedings of the trust vote to be convened on June 30, shall be subject to the final outcome of the instant Writ Petition as well the Writ Petitions referred to above.” The court’s decision was based upon a request from Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu declaring the governor’s directive for the Maha Vkas Aghadi (MVA) the government conduct the test on the floor and prove that it has a majority vote in the House on Thursday (June 30) and deem it illegal in that the governor didn’t take into consideration the deputy speaker’s disqualification notices sent to 16 MLAs who were rebels. Maharashtra the chief minister Uddhav Thackeray quit after the court’s ruling.

Based on these judgments it is evident that the Supreme Court has placed a lot of emphasis the floor tests within the Legislative Assembly to establish political stability within the state.

(Sumit Saxena is available to be reached via dmdheeraj786@gmail.com)

-IANSss/dpb

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