Maharashtra political impasse: SC to give ruling on floor test on Tuesday

IT News
Mumbai, Nov 25

The Supreme Court (SC) today refused to give immediate relief to the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine in its plea against the Maharashtra Governor’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister in a midnight coup, engineered by the BJP with the support of Ajit Pawar (NCP) on Saturday and reserved its order till 10.30 AM on Tuesday.
The petitioners had urged the court that the BJP be asked to prove its majority on the floor of the state legislative assembly immediately or else the combine be allowed to prove its majority. A bench comprising Justices N.V.Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna which reserved its order is likely to pass an order on holding of a floor test, on Tuesday.
The petitioners had also submitted the affidavits of 154 MLAs (56 from Sena,48 from NCP, 44 from Congress, Other independent totalling 154) to the court. However the bench refused to take on record the affidavits saying that the scope of the petition cannot be expanded.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta raised preliminary objections to judicial review of the Governor’s decision. He clarified that he was appearing for the Secretary of the Governor since the Governor could not be a party in person. He said that the letter by Ajit Pawar to the Governor dated November 22 contained signatures of 54 MLAs and no other party till date had gone to the Governor saying it could form the government.
Senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal appearing on behalf of the Shiv Sena asked ”What was the haste in revoking the President’s Rule at 5 in the morning, appoint a CM at 8 in the morning?”. He said that “Floor test should happen within 24 hours. Protem Speaker should be the most senior member of the House. Open ballot, division of the House and video-recording of the proceedings are what we are asking for,” he told the court.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Devendra Fadnavis, opposed the floor test by a Protem speaker and maintained that his client wants floor test only by a full time speaker in terms of the business of the House. He resisted any order of floor test on Tuesday.
Senior Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Prithviraj Chavan, briefing the media at the Supreme Court lawns said that  ”Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP believe this is a murder of democracy in Maharashtra. We demanded floor test to prove that the majority rests with our alliance. However the court heard all arguments and reserved the order. We are confident that in Maharashtra, floor test will give the BJP a befitting reply.”  Congress leader Mukul Wasnik said that the Constitution of India, which made India a sovereign, democratic republic, was adopted on November 26, 1949. Tuesday being the 70 th anniversary of that adoption day, proper justice was expected from the court.
In another development NCP group leader Jayant Patil, Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan and other legislators submitted, a letter to the Governor’s office showing the strength of 162 MLAs. They submitted the letter to Guv’s office since the Governor was not in Mumbai.
In yet another surprising move, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar (who had rebelled and joined BJP and was sworn in along with Fadnavis) held a meeting with NCP MLAs, at Vidhan Bhavan in South Mumbai. Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and others were present. The meeting was on at the time of going to press. Pawar also held a meeting with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis late Sunday night.
In the meanwhile Chief Minister Fadnavis who already took over reigns of the state, signed a first cheque of Rs 1.20 lakh to give medical assistance from CM’s fund to a woman Kusum Vengurlekar residing at Dadar in Central Mumbai on Monday.

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