The Supreme Court on Monday reserved the order on a joint petition filed by Shiv Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party against the decision of the Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to invite BJP to form the government in the state.
The petitions were filed after BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath for the second consecutive term as the state Chief Minister, with NCP’s Ajit Pawar as his Deputy Chief Minister on Saturday morning. This came when deliberations among Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena on the government formation had reached the final stage.
The order on whether the floor test will be conducted for proving the majority of the BJP-led Fadnavis government is expected to be pronounced at 10:30 am tomorrow.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna today heard the arguments put forth by counsels appearing for Governor, Maharashtra BJP and other parties.
On the directions of the top court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra Governor’s office, handed over an original letter of Governor inviting BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis to form a government.
Mehta said that the Governor, in absolute discretion, invited the largest party [BJP] to form the government on November 23.
“Devendra Fadnavis staked claim following the letter of NCP’s Ajit Pawar along with letters of support of 11 independent and other MLAs. The Governor then wrote to the President and requested for revocation of the President’s Rule; Governor in his wisdom invited the leader of the largest party,” he submitted.
The Solicitor General added that Fadnavis has a support of 170 MLAs. He also sought two-three days’ time from the court to file a reply by asserting that he wants to place additional material on record.
Meanwhile, Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Maharashtra BJP, echoed similar sentiments and said that the governor has an absolute discretion to appoint the Chief Minister.
“Judicial review not permitted. The floor test is imperative. But it is the discretion of the Speaker to decide when the floor test is to be held,” he said.
Senior Advocate, Maninder Singh next made his submissions on behalf of NCP’s Ajit Pawar and said that there was nothing contrary to show that his client was not the NCP leader as of November 22.
“My list [granting support to BJP] was constitutionally, legally correct. There is nothing to show that I was not the NCP leader on November 22. I will resolve disputes within my party but this petition must end now,” Singh told the court on behalf of Ajit Pawar.
The contentions were made after NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that the decision to support the BJP was not backed by him and was his nephew’s [Ajit Pawar] personal one.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Shiv Sena, said, “What was the national emergency that President rule was revoked at 5.17 am and swearing-in was at 8 am? President Rule was revoked at 5.17 am which means everything happened before 5.17.”
He further said that a floor test must be conducted within 24 hours with videography and a single ballot.
Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Congress, referred the move to invite the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra as “murder of democracy”.
“What BJP alliance has shown to Court are signatures of 54 NCP MLAs electing Ajit Pawar as legislative party leader. They were not signed in support of joining the BJP alliance to form a government. NCP’s support to Ajit Pawar was without any covering letter. How can the Governor turn a blind eye to this,” he told the court.