Live Updates Madhya Pradesh
Live Updates Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

The Court is hearing pleas concerning whether or not a floor test should be held in Madhya Pradesh, in the wake of the resignation of 22 rebel MLAs formerly with the ruling Congress party.

Supreme Court to hear a petition filed by BJP MLAs from Madhya Pradesh seeking a direction to conduct a floor test in the state assembly.

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SC had issued notice yesterday to the Speaker of the Assembly and Chief Minister Kamal Nath, among others. The Court has directed for the notice to be served via email, WhatsApp as well as dasti order through the state's standing counsel.

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Supreme Court Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta assembles. The matter has been passed over.

Justice DY Chandrachud  (L) and Justice Hemant Gupta (R)
Justice DY Chandrachud (L) and Justice Hemant Gupta (R)

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Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi (for BJP MLAs) is before Special Bench in relation to the AGR case before Justice Arun Mishra and Justice MR Shah.

Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi
Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi

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Hearing will begin after some time when the Counsel are all available.

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Bench assembles again to hear the BJP MLA matter, Court is informed that the order in AGR case is being dictated and Rohatgi will be in Court shortly.

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Dave agitated at the scenario, says the other Counsels have been waiting for 45 minutes in the Court and the same is not safe during such a time of corona virus, says Rohatgi should not have accepted another brief

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave

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Dave says heavens are not going to fall if the matter is not heard today, seeks time to file reply. Dave arguing for Congress party adds that the Government was formed with majority and now their MLAs are being abducted.

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Maninder Singh interjects, says nobody has been abducted. Dave begins to make his submissions on the Interim application for release of 16 MLAs.

Senior Counsel Maninder Singh
Senior Counsel Maninder Singh

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Dave submits that MLAs are expected to serve their constituencies, they are not expected to get up one day and simply resign. Dave taking the Supreme Court through the prayer for release of the MLAs who are allegedly abducted.

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Dave: Today we are in a Peculiar situation. The public of the State trusted the Congress party (114 seats) and the BJP had won 109 seats. The Single Largest party had won the vote of confidence on that day.

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Dave: A very stable govt is functioning for 18 months

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Dave: When Gujarat MLAs were shifted to Bangalore, BJP used CRPF and IT Department to carry out raids

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Congress Mukt Bharat is what PM has said openly. But can a floor test be ordered in the absence of MLAs in a parliamentary democracy. Is this the kind of responsibility we want? - Dave

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Who produced the resignation letters - BJP. Who accompanied them - BJP. And in the middle of the night, the Governor issued missives: Dave

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Dave urges that the authenticity of the resignation letters needs to be verified by the Speaker.

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Dave: The CM and the party are concerned about the wellbeing of the missing MLAs. Please don't forget the figure of 2/3rd, if 2/3rd are gone, I'll have nothing

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Justice DYC: Supreme Court shouldn't thwart the collective responsibility of the Cabinet.. this is what we are also concerned about.

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Dave: the question today is about destroying the principles of democracy by using muscle and money power and Supreme Court will never allow it.

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Dave: BJP is a responsible party and can this be expected from a responsible party? Tomorrow the party will abduct MLAs from States it does not have majority in & come to Supreme Court & say Supreme Court is bound by Floor Test. Supreme Court should not entertain this matter.

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Dave to Supreme Court: It is the duty of the Speaker to decide whether the resignation is voluntary or not and that it (Resignation) is not obtained through coercion.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Dave: Refer this matter to the Constitution Bench and decide that such acts should never happen again. Governor does not represent the BJP and is required to be and expected to be neutral.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Dave: Reading out letters exchanged between Governor and Kamal Nath People will laugh at us. Please don't entertain this matter. If they want to battle it out outside Supreme Court, okay. But to use the Supreme Court's forum for this kind of a case...

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Dave: Governor said that he is confident that the Congress has lost majority. Dave arguing: "Is this how the august office (of Governor) is supposed to function How is he confident without hearing anyone?"

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Dave: Speaker is the ultimate master, he (Governor) is overriding the Speaker also. Why have any authority in this country at all when everything is to be made redundant?

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DY Chandrachud: ...when I used to use the expression "Constitutional morality" I was criticised. But even when BR Ambedkar used the expression it was meant to be Constitutional morality derived from principles of the Constitution.

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Dave continues, says this matter is about responsibility, "where is this responsibility?"

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Dave making submissions on "Constitutional Morality" and says: BJP is indulging in complete destruction of Constitutional Morality!

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Dave quoting Ambedkar “Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.”

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Dave: Stable governance should be considered as a basic structure of the Constitution so that nobody tends to work against the stability of an elected government... The Governor had no business issuing missives in the middle of the night.

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Bench inquires about acceptance of resignation of the 22 MLAs. AM Singhvi for the Speaker (INC MLA Narmada Prasad Prajapati) tells the Court that 6 were accepted.

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Kapil Sibal for Kamal Nath tells Supreme Court that question pertaining to the role of Speaker in case of resignations has been clarified in the judgment delivered by Justice Ramana's Bench in the Karnataka Assembly case.

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SG Tushar Mehta tells Supreme Court: The Governor first accepted the resignations of Six persons as Ministers and thereafter their resignation as MLAs was accepted by the Speaker.

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Dave: The most fundamental issue today is how can Governor direct for a floor test? He is nobody to decide this!

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Dave cites Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu [1992 SCR (1) 686] "The object of the Tenth Schedule is to curb the evil of political defection motivated by the lure of office or other similar consideration which endanger the foundation of democracy."

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Dave: Defection can also happen when you resign, not only when you join another party. ... there needs to be a re-election only then can a trust vote be asked for.

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Dave: My petition raises a frontal attack saying that there is a conspiracy by BJP to destabilise the government.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Dave: An MLA must go back and face the electorate to win election again, cannot simply resign.

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Justice Hemant Gupta: That's what they are doing. They are giving up on their membership & may go back again to the voters.

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Dave: Heavens aren't going to fall that Congress must go immediately & Shivraj Singh's Govt must be saddled on the people.

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The Supreme Court hasn't gone into the aspect of constitutional morality in any of the judgments before. My only prayer is, Issue notice and hear it at length on some other day. Dave concludes his arguments

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Mukul Rohatgi begins to make his submissions.

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Dave says Rohatgi is not on caveat in his petition, shouldn't be heard and he may argue on his own petition. Rohatgi says, I will argue on whatever I want

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Rohatgi: We have heard of Constitutional morality, Democracy, Ambedkar and lofty principles but look at the petitioner in Dave's Petition. It is the party (INC) which was responsible for the mass murder of democracy in 1975!

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Rohatgi: It is absurd that it's being argued that hold by-election and then floor test can be held. This is not a case of defection. This is a case of resignation and here are people who have resigned and the duty of holding by-election is that of the EC, not Supreme Court.

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Rohatgi: Governor is the Constitutional Head of the State and it's his primary and only duty to ensure that the functioning of the state is carried out in accordance with the Constitution.

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Rohatgi: It is an astounding argument that person who has lost the majority is saying that he should continue to be in power for six months, it is nothing but the lust for power.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Rohatgi: 22 people (MLAs) have said that we don't want to be with you (Congress), don't want to go to Bhopal. They have rejected to be under the banner of the party. Then what should happen?

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Justice Chandrachud: The Speaker has to accept the resignation first and satisfy himself. It is not like the resignation of a sitting judge where he has to resigns in his own hands.

Justice DY Chandrachud
Justice DY Chandrachud

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Bench Rises for Lunch.

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Bench assembles for the post lunch session, Mukul Rohatgi continues to make his submissions.

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Rohatgi cites the various Judgments, says the Governor is required to give a report to the President if he finds that the State is not functioning in accordance with the Constitution.

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Rohatgi submits that the Supreme Court had said that Governor must first try to find an alternative before making such a report... This is a stage prior to imposition of Article 356.

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Rohatgi: If the Governor comes to a prima facie conclusion that there is no majority enjoyed, he may advise for floor test to be held.

File photo: Governor of Madhya Pradesh
File photo: Governor of Madhya Pradesh

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Rohatgi: There is a very limited question that the court needs to decide right now - Alternatives that the Governor should consider before proposing for President's Rule under Article 356.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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J Chandrachud: One concern that we have: Speaker hasn't decided for 16 MLAs. They say 16 have been taken away to Bengaluru. We can't compel MLAs to attend proceedings but what we can do is to ensure they can take their own decision. That's the duty of a constitutional court

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Rohatgi on the rebel MLAs: There are videos which would show that these people (MLAs) are there on their own volition. They are being portrayed as though they are kidnapped!

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Justice Chandrachud points out discrepancies in the affidavits filed by the MLAs in terms of their role in this case. These are points that the Court needs to be alert about. These 16 MLAs either proceed to the floor or don't but surely they can't be held captive and how do we ensure this?

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Justice DY Chandrachud: We aren't saying they are held captive, that would be to prejudge the issue. Our concern is to allay the apprehension.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Rohatgi reads out the Governor's letter to the CM: He says that he has seen the media coverage of the situation, seen letters of resignation and also mentions that he has prima facie satisfaction that the Congress government has lost the majority in the Assembly.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Kamal Nath (L) with Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Lalji Tandon (R)
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Kamal Nath (L) with Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Lalji Tandon (R)

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Rohatgi says that the Governor's letter also endorses a floor test and says "the only question now is if the directive should be followed or not?"

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Mukhul Rohatgi comes back to the Bommai judgment, says this is the Bible [S.R. Bommai vs Union Of India; 1994 AIR 1918]

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Rohatgi: Bommai judgment also held that a CM's refusal to test his strength on the floor of the Assembly can well be interpreted as prima facie proof of his no longer enjoying the confidence of the House.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Rohatgi cites letters sent by Rebel MLAs to the Governor; says how could the Governor have been wrong in his prima facie conclusion that floor test was a must

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Justice Chandrachud: How does a court ensure that there is a free exercise of choice that these members can make. As a constitutional court, we also have to discharge our duties. What can be the modalities to ensure it?

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Justice Chandrachud: We cannot say that we've seen TV coverage and are satisfied about the free will.

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SG Tushar Mehta rises to make a submission on behalf of the Governor; Justice Chandrachud: Where are they (the rebel MLAs) exactly?; Mehta: I as Governor don't know that

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Tushar Mehta: But there are media videos, where these MLAs are being seen saying that they are not children... they have not been abducted and taken away against their own will.

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Justice Chandrachud: We know that Mr. Dave made submissions on the fixed term of the House for five years but we are aware that it is not exactly how the Constitution works. We just want your assistance in how to ensure that the legislature decides who has the majority?

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Justice Hemant Gupta: If they (rebel MLAs) choose to come to the House, they should have free and uninterrupted access to the Assembly.

Justice Hemant Gupta
Justice Hemant Gupta

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On Court asking for assistance and suggestion on how to ensure that the rebel MLAs have free access. Rohatgi says willing to produce them before the Supreme Court. SC refuses. Rohatgi says that the MLAs can be instead produced before the Registrar of the Karnataka HC then.

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Rohatgi says why do they (INC) want the MLAs to come to Bhopal? "So that they can lure them, do horse trading... Why do you (congress) want to meet them (rebel MLAs) when they don't want to meet you?"

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Rohatgi cites the recent judgments of the SC in the Karnataka and Maharashtra crises cases. "These are all those cases where midnight hearing and Sunday morning hearings were held" These were times when Congress pressed for an immediate floor test.

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Rohatgi concludes, says if the Court doesn't want the MLAs here (in SC) then the Registrar General can meet them. Rohatgi made this suggestion on Court's asking how the free will of the MLAs can be ensured

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Maninder Singh begins making submissions for the rebel MLAs, says all 22 of the MLAs have held a press conference and declared that the decisions taken are on their own free will, sane has been sworn in their affidavits also.

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Maninder Singh: Right to resign is a Constitutional right, but what is the corresponding duty on the Speaker for accepting the resignation? Can he sit on the resignation, can he be choosy that he'll accept some, not accept others because political game is going on?

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Singh: Distinction between Resignation and Disqualification has to be kept in mind. The case before the SC today is that of Resignation of the 22 MLAs. I support the argument that the Govt has lost the majority and must immediately go to floor test.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Maninder Singh concludes, says the rebel MLAs will face the consequences as per the Constitutional provisions, but they don't want to meet them (Congress).

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Abhishek Manu Singhvi for speaker begins making his submissions. Singhvi: Is the Court to direct the floor test short circuiting the discretion of the Speaker in the running assembly, that is one main issue.

Senior Advocate AM Singhvi
Senior Advocate AM Singhvi

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Singhvi: There is a fundamental fallacy in their argument that the Governor has the locus, but it is the Speaker who has the locus. So, SG Mehta for the Governor can say he was prima facie satisfied, but the Governor has no locus here.

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Singhvi cites Article 212 of the Constitution of India which bars Courts from taking cognisance of the actions that take place inside the House

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Singhvi says it is in the fresh Assembly that a Floor Test can be held, in a running assembly it is a vote of confidence or no confidence.

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Singhvi: a Resignation of the MLA has to be accepted, it can't be said to be accepted because the Governor saw something on TV, this is a new Article 190 jurisprudence.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Singhvi: Entirely agree with Maninder Singh that Article 190 and disqualification are totally different. This is an argument I expressly made in the Karnataka case.

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Singhvi: We didn't have defection law prior to 1985. Rajiv Gandhi Govt brought in the Anti Defection Law and the 10th schedule. The object in all this is that there should not be an immediate by-election.

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Singhvi: These MLAs will then become ministers or chairpersons of some state bodies without having contested by-election.

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Singhvi: Will the Supreme Court then in every case say the Governor has asked for the floor test, forget the Speaker and order it. This will be like asking Your Lordships to mandamus to commit Constitutional sin.

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Justice Chandrachud: You (Speaker) can prevent this by accepting the resignation.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Justice Chandrachud: If you accept the resignation, won't they be disqualified automatically?; Kapil Sibal and AM Singhvi: No

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Singhvi: J Ramana's judgment makes a clear distinction between A 190 & Disqualification. This is a petition to short circuit my (Speaker) discretion.

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Singhvi: The three defences posed here are that 1) the MLAs can be brought to SC 2) chambers in the HC 3) The Governor said so because he saw on TV.

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Justice Chandrachud: We had made up our mind that we watch the clip. But, if they appear before you (Speaker) are you willing to take a decision immediately?

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AM Singhvi: 1 or 2 days after settling down

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Maninder: We do not want to appear before Speaker. It is a matter of our safety

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Justice Chandrachud: In all these orders that the SC has passed, the only concern has been let there be no horse trading.; Singhvi: The horse is already under captivity.

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Sibal (For Kamalnath): I'm a member of the INC, I'm the CM, they (rebel MLAs) are congressmen, I want to meet them. ; Maninder (For Rebel MLAs): We don't want to meet you. ; Justice Chandrachud: There is a problem with your plea for access, this is not like the custody of a child.

Madhya Pradesh Political Crisis: Supreme Court is hearing a plea seeking a direction to conduct floor test in state assembly [LIVE UPDATES]

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Maninder: The rebel MLAs are ready to appear before the Supreme Court. ; Justice Chandrachud: I see the reason why you're saying that, but it won't be appropriate. ; Rohatgi: I'm saying make it live! Whether it is MLAs meeting the Registrar General or someone else, make it live.

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Bench rises for the day. Matter adjourned till tomorrow, will be taken up again at 10.30AM.

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