The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on the ongoing crisis in Maharashtra with the government lawyers opposing an immediate floor-test. “We will pass orders tomorrow at 10.30 AM”, said Justice NV Ramana.
The Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna on Sunday had asked the central government to produce the two letters, one by Devendra Fadnavis claiming a majority and another by the Governor to the Centre.
As the hearing began on Monday, the lawyers representing the BJP and Fadnavis argued that the Governor’s order could not be reviewed in the court adding that the situation here was different from the political crisis in Karnataka when the top court had ordered a floor test. The JDS-Congress government had failed to prove the majority prompting the then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to resign.
Mukul Rohatgi, who was representing Fadnavis, said that the Governor had acted reasonably and correctly based on the material before him. Justice Khanna asked if Fadnavis had the numbers today adding that the ‘majority is not decided in the Governor’s house but on the floors of the House.’
Rohatgi appeared to seek more time for the floor-test. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta too sought 2-3 days time to file a reply. Both Rohatgi and Mehta said that the top court could not issue an interim order after Justice Khanna asked whether the parties would address the court on the issue of the floor test. “There is no case for an interim order. The Court cannot issue directions to the Governor,” Rohatgi was quoted by LiveLaw website.
Kapil Sibal, who was representing the Shiv Sena, urged the court to order an immediate floor-test. “Let the oldest member be made Protem Speaker. Let Floor test be video recorded,” he was quoted as saying. Sibal said that the attempt to form an alternative government started only after the Shiv Sena had split with its pre-poll alliance partner, the BJP.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the NCP, said that the BJP had been ‘too clever by half’ adding that the letter of support presented by it nowhere said that 54 MLAs supported the saffron party. Singhvi said that the letter was about 54 MLAs electing Pawar as legislative party chief. “This is perjury,” Livelaw quoted Singhvi as saying.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised the issue of the Maharashtra crisis inside the parliament by terming the development the ‘murder of democracy.’ The Congress MPs also staged protests inside the premises of the parliament. “Mr Speaker, I had come here to ask a question. But, the purpose of my question is defeated since democracy has been murdered in Maharashtra.
Here are the highlights:
- Hearing concludes. The Supreme Court to pronounce verdict tomorrow. No floor-test for now
- The court cannot order a floor test in 24 hrs, argues Rohatgi. He adds, “Rohatgi continues his rejoinder arguments. Says Court cannot interfere with house procedure regulated by rules of assembly.”
- Meanwhile, MLAs from NCP and Shiv Sena have been moved to different hotels in Mumbai to protect them from being poached by the BJP.
- Singhvi demanded a floor-test for tomorrow. He asks, “When both sides are saying ok to a floor test, why should the Court wait for affidavits with replies?”
- There is no covering letter saying that NCP MLAs support BJP. Its a list of 54 signatures. This is a fraud on democracy: Singhvi (Livelaw)