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In the case related to the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court today called for the letters related to formation of the government in the state.
The Court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place on record two letters – the letter by the Governor inviting the BJP to form the government, and the letter of support of Devendra Fadnavis, who was appointed Chief Minister of Maharashtra yesterday.
The Court will then pass appropriate orders tomorrow.
Notice has also been issued to Fadnavis, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, the State of Maharashtra, and the Union of India.
The order was passed by a Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna, which assembled on a Sunday to hear the petition filed by the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Indian National Congress (INC). The alliance of the three parties had challenged the decision of the Governor to invite the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in Maharashtra.
Before the three-judge Bench today, Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi represented the alliance parties. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for BJP MLAs and independents.
Both Singhvi and Sibal urged the Court to order a floor test to prove majority in the state, as was done in Karnataka last year. Sibal said,
“We are saying if they have majority, let them prove it. If they don’t, allow us to form the government.”
Sibal also called into question the actions of the Governor in inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the government in Maharashtra.
“It appears that the Governor is acting directly under the orders of a political party. The act of the Governor smacks of bias, is malafide, contrary to all norms.”
Singhvi assailed the appointment of former NCP leader Ajit Pawar as deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra. He informed the Court that NCP MLAs had written to the Governor stating that they did not recognize Pawar as an NCP member.
“How can Ajit Pawar be Deputy CM when 41 NCP MLAs have said that ‘we are with NCP and we don’t recognise him as NCP leader anymore’.”
Citing the Goa and Uttarakhand cases that came before the Supreme Court, he went on to argue that a floor test ought to be ordered today itself.
“If floor test is ordered for tomorrow, larger issues may come back to the Supreme Court later. How is it possible for someone claiming majority yesterday to shy away from a floor test today? If floor test is ordered, it is not an invasive adversarial order at all.”
Rohatgi, on the other hand, sought to buy some time. He went on to argue that the decisions of the Governor are not amenable to judicial review.
“For so many days they didn’t lift a little finger to form the government and now someone else has formed the government. No doubt that the floor test is inevitable, but the decision of the Governor are not subject to judicial review.”
He concluded by saying that notice ought to be issued in the matter, so that everyone could spend their Sunday in peace.
The Court ultimately asked for the letters related to the government formation to be placed on record. It will pass appropriate orders in the matter tomorrow.
The Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Indian National Congress had approached the Supreme Court after BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The alliance of the three parties has approached the Apex Court challenging the decision of the Governor to invite the BJP to form a “minority government”.
The alliance parties had prayed for the Court to quash the order of the Governor inviting Fadnavis to form the government as void ab initio, illegal, and arbitrary. They have also sought a direction from the Court to the Governor to invite the alliance, which has the support of more than 144 MLAs, to form the government in Maharashtra.