Trust Vote can't be held in absence of captive MLAs: Madhya Pradesh Congress moves SC against Governor's direction to hold floor test

Trust Vote can't be held in absence of captive MLAs: Madhya Pradesh Congress moves SC against Governor's direction to hold floor test

Aditya AK

The Madhya Pradesh Congress Legislature Party (MPCLP) has approached the Supreme Court challenging the Governor's direction to hold a floor test amidst the ongoing political crisis in the state.

The MP Congress has moved the Apex Court a day after BJP leaders sought a direction to hold a floor test in the state assembly. The Court today issued notice in the plea filed by BJP leaders including former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The petition filed by the MP Congress alleges a blatant abuse of power and subversion of democracy by the BJP-ruled Central government as well as the BJP-ruled Karnataka government in holding the 16 ex-Congress MLAs from the state captive in Bengaluru.

It is submitted that the governments at the Centre and in Karnataka subverted constitutional limitations to aid the BJP in Madhya Pradesh to attempt to bring down the democratically elected government in the state.

The petition goes on to state that the office bearers of the MPCLP have not been allowed to meet the captive ex-Congress legislators. When two Congress MLAs attempted to meet them, they were manhandled by BJP goons and illegally detained by the Karnataka police, the plea claims.

Further, the allegedly unconstitutional acts of Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon have also been in called into question. It has been contended that the act of the Governor directing Chief Minister Kamal Nath to hold a floor test in the absence of the 16 MLAs, is beyond the realm of the powers of the Governor.

It is submitted that the central question before the Court was whether a trust vote can be held in the absence of representation of the electorate who had voted in support of the Congress government. The plea states,

“In the instant case, as the 22 MLAs who represent 22 constituents almost constituting 10% of the total seats have purportedly resigned, the electorate of such constituencies are completely unrepresented. In these circumstances, a trust vote if held will be a complete sham and would be antithetical to the principle of representative democracy which is a basic feature of the Constitution.”

Plea filed in Supreme Court by MP Congress

Thus, it is contended that the floor test should take place only after by-elections for the seats vacated by the MLAs in question are conducted.

After the ex-Congress legislators were “taken captive”, BJP leaders approached the Speaker of the Assembly on March 10 and tendered the resignation letters of the captive MLAs. The petition notes that none of the defecting MLAs were physically present when the resignation letters were handed over to the Speaker.

CM Kamal Nath on March 13 addressed a letter to the Governor offering to hold a floor test once the MLAs are released. The Congress then issued a whip to ensure the presence of all its members at the budget session of the state assembly which was to commence on March 16.

In the meanwhile, Governor Tandon then sent a letter to Nath, urging him to gain the trust vote on the floor of the House.

When the session commenced on March 16, the MLAs belonging to the Madhya Pradesh Congress were absent. The Governor once again wrote to the CM, asking him to hold the trust vote on March 17.

This has prompted the MP Congress to approach the Supreme Court, seeking a direction to the Centre and the state government of Karnataka to grant access to the ex-Congress MLAs held captive. An order declaring the actions of the BJP in confining the MLAs as being illegal and unconstitutional has also been sought.

It has also been prayed that the captive MLAs be allowed to take part in the ongoing budget session of the state assembly. Further, it is prayed that any trust vote be held in the presence of all the duly elected MLAs.

Moreover, a direction to declare the messages sent by the Governor directing the Chief Minster to hold the floor test in the absence of the MLAs as being unconstitutional, has also been sought.

The petition has been drawn by Advocates Javedur Rahman, Rajesh Inamdar, Aditya Bhat, and Ali Asghar Rahim; and filed by Advocate Amit Pai. The plea has been settled by Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat.

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