The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a floor test on Wednesday to determine the strength of the BJP-led Maharashtra government that the opposition alliance claims does not command majority support.
The floor test will have to be held by 5 pm, and there will be no secret ballot, according to the India Today. Proceedings should be telecast live. A pro-tem speaker will swear in the newly-elected lawmakers.
The bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna ruled in favor of the Nationalist Congress Party, Shiv Sena and Congress, which had demanded that a floor test be conducted in Maharashtra immediately to avoid horse-trading, and it came as a blow to the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party that was hoping for a secret ballot during the floor test.
While these interim orders on the floor test have been passed, the case has not yet been disposed off, The Wire reports. The major part of the Shiv Sena’s petition was on questioning the validity of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decisions which led to Fadnavis being sworn in as chief minister. These decisions, the petition alleges, were “arbitrary and malafide”.
“This case raises important constitutional issues regarding the powers of the governor. The court having regards to the decisions in the Bombai case and Uttarakhand case, it is imperative to prevent illegal activities like horse-trading and hence prevention has to be taken… Floor test has to be conducted by 5 pm, by a protem speaker… Oath will be administered starting from morning and go on till 5 pm,” Justice Ramana said while reading out the interim order.
The petitioners had argued that “the Governor has belittled the constitutional office of the Governor and has allowed himself to be a pawn in BJP’s illegal usurpation of power.”
The court has given the respondents – including the Union of India and Devendra Fadnavis – eight weeks to respond to the rest of the petition.
The BJP’s government formation came early on Saturday – a day after NCP leader Sharad Pawar had announced on Friday evening that the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress had come to an agreement that Uddhav Thackeray would be chief minister for the next five years, as the consensus candidate of the alliance. Weeks of back-and-forth had gone into this announcement.
Based on his claim of support from Ajit Pawar and the entire NCP legislature party, Fadnavis was sworn in at 8 am on Saturday. Earlier, president’s rule, imposed in the state, on November 12 was hurriedly revoked at 5:47 am that morning.
Sharad Pawar tweeted that the NCP was not backing the BJP and that Ajit Pawar (his nephew) had gone out on his own. Ajit has since been sacked as NCP legislature party leader, and disciplinary committee set up by the party has moved to expel him.
The NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress has claimed to have 162 MLAs’ support, even organizing a “parade” to show strength on Monday evening at the Hotel Hyatt in Mumbai.
Sena has 56 seats, NCP 54 and Congress 44 in the state assembly with 288 seats. BJP (105), the single largest party, and Sena had allied for the election held on October 21 but later fell apart over formation of the government.