MAHARASHTRA BATTLE: Supreme Court reserves judgment for Tuesday morning

Maharashtra Legislature

The Supreme Court of India is hearing the petition filed by political parties Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Indian National Congress, accusing the governor of violating constitutional norms in inviting the BJP to form the government in the state.

The judgment has been reserved for 10:30 AM tomorrow, giving much-needed respite for the BJP government. The opposition parties had demanded a floor test on Tuesday.

It is now likely that the floor test will be ordered only by Wednesday at the earliest. Opposition parties are afraid that each passing hour gives the BJP more time to convince their MLAs to abstain from the voting, allowing the Fadnavis government to survive.

The following are the real-time highlights of the arguments made by the two parties:

Central Government: Opposition parties are indulging in horse-trading. In fact, an entire stable has been stolen. The Supreme Court cannot monitor the proceedings of a legislative body. The Court cannot examine or hear an appeal over a decision by the governor (central government). The date of floor tests and so on are to be decided by the governor.

Ajit Pawar: I was authorized to lend support. I will resolve any intra-party dispute. I represent the NCP. I lent support to BJP for a ‘stable and strong’ government in Maharashtra. No material has been placed on record which disputes the letter submitted by Ajit Pawar to the Governor.

Shiv Sena: We are submitting letters from 154 NCP MLAs with signature giving support to the coalition. We were planning to stake claim on the 23rd. What was the reason for the withdrawal of President’s Rule at 5:47 AM. NCP declared publicly on Friday that they would be forming govt with Shiv Sena and Cong, how could Governor accept they were joining with BJP later in the night? given the 7pm Friday press conference where Shiv Sena-NCP-Cong announced they would form govt, the decision to revoke President’s Rule at 5:17 am and call BJP and Ajit Pawar is clearly mala-fide. There should be a floor test within 24 hours. Let the oldest member be made Protein Speaker. Let Floor test be video recorded.

Indian National Congress: The incidents amount to a ‘fraud on the constitution’. Affidavits from 56 NCP MLAs submitted by Ajit Pawar were a fraud. We will not file the affidavits of 154 MLAs, says they are many only to “shock the conscience of the court”. SC will also need to set out safeguards for how the floor test will be conducted. Says other side trying to delay, interfere with process, so SC must specify things like having it done by pro tem speaker. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, let’s have the floor test. If you have the numbers, why are you scared to go on the floor of the house?

Court Observations: Floor test was done in 24 hours in similar cases, in some – 48 hours. Parties should address the Court on the issue of floor test? We are not going to expand the scope of the petition to examine the decision to revoke President’s Role. We do not take the affidavit of 154 MLAs, as the scope of the petition doesn’t allow it.

Central Government: The decision to remove Ajit Pawar as leader of legislative party of NCP and whip was missing 12 MLA signatures. Why should the court act as the speaker?