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The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict in the petition related to the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra.
The order will be pronounced at 10:30 AM tomorrow.
The matter was heard by a Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna, which had first assembled on a Sunday to hear the petition filed by the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Indian National Congress (INC).
Appearing for the Secretary to the Governor of Maharashtra, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta today took the Court though the process leading up to the appointment of Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Mehta produced a letter by Deputy CM Ajit Pawar purportedly stating that 54 MLAs of the NCP had elected him as the leader of the party. The members had also agreed to extend its support to the BJP, Mehta claimed.
The SG also read out from the letter placed by Fadnavis before Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. Fadnavis’ letter also mentions the letter by Pawar, stating that the NCP was extending the support of its 54 MLAs to the BJP.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi then made his submissions. He claimed that over the weekend, the MLAs of the NCP had sided with Pawar and Fadnavis. Now, they are extending their support to Sharad Pawar, he said.
He went on to argue that the petitioners’ attack on the Governor was unwarranted, and that Koshyari acted reasonably based on the material placed before him.
Appearing for Ajit Pawar, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh said there was nothing to the contrary to show that Pawar was not the NCP leader as of November 22.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal next made his submissions on behalf of the petitioners. He said,
“When the Governor waited for so many days, what was the emergency that required revocation of President’s Rule at 5.47 in the morning and installing a Govt at 8 am?”
Referring the move to invite the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra as “murder of democracy”, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said,
“There was a list of signatures (of 54 NCP MLAs), but did it say that the MLAs were agreeing to support the BJP? There can be signatures without a covering letter.”
He also argued that with regard to the floor test, the senior most leader of the House should be appointed as Pro Tem Speaker. Singhvi concluded by saying that the floor test should take place immediately.
Making his rejoinder submissions, Rohatgi stated that the floor test should be conducted after the election of the Speaker.
Mehta requested time to file a reply, saying that he wishes to place additional material on record.
The Bench went on to reserve its order in the matter.
Yesterday, the Court called for the letters related to formation of the government in the state.
The Court had 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 on Saturday.
After issuing notice Fadnavis, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, the State of Maharashtra, and the Union of India, the Bench stated that it would pass orders in the matter on Monday.
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 petitioners alleged that the Governor of Maharashtra has acted in a “partisan manner” and “made a mockery of the high office of the Governor”. In fact, the petitioners have further added that the actions of the Governor indicate that he has acted at the behest of a political party, in this case, the BJP.
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.