SC’s order left Fadnavis, Ajit with Hobson’s choice
Court direction for floor test on Wed forced BJP’s hand
The Supreme Court’s Tuesday morning order directing Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to hold trust vote on Wednesday came as a big setback for the BJP and triggered a chain of events, forcing rebel NCP leader Ajit Pawar to quit as Deputy CM and leaving no option for Fadnavis to continue as the CM.
In ordering urgent floor test, the SC went by previous decisions of the apex court in similar situations and sent a clear message that it would not allow Governors to use their discretions in any manner that suited them.
As a month has elapsed after the declaration of results of the Assembly elections, it is incumbent upon the court to protect the democratic values for which immediate floor test is the most effective mechanism to curtail unlawful practices such as horse trading as well as to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable Government, it said.
The court order pressed the panic button in the BJP camp and was also used by the Sharad Pawar camp to convince Ajit Pawar of the futility of his rebellion when he had just 24 hours to manage the numbers.
The apex court had asked Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to appoint a Pro-tem Speaker and ensure that all the elected members of the House are sworn in on Wednesday itself by 5pm for paving the way for floor test.
It directed that the voting in the Assembly will not be on the basis of secret ballot and the entire proceeding will have to be telecast live. The top court made it absolutely clear that “Pro-tem Speaker shall be solely appointed for the aforesaid agenda immediately”.
“In a situation wherein, if the floor test is delayed, there is a possibility of horse trading, it becomes incumbent upon the court to act to protect democratic values. An immediate floor test, in such a case, might be the most effective mechanism to do so,” said a bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna.
“In the present case, oath has not been administered to the elected members even though a month has elapsed since the declaration of election results. 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.
“In this context, it is necessary and expedient to conduct floor test as soon as possible to determine whether the CM, who was administered oath of office, has the support of the majority or not,” the bench said in its 19-page order.
Wednesday, 27 November 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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