The Supreme Court on Wednesday queried Shiv Sena Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu that if a government has lost majority in the house, and the Speaker of the Assembly is asked to disqualify those who have withdrawn support, should the Governor wait for a floor test?
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Prabhu, contended before a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala that the Governor is bound to act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
He added that the Governor may act on the advice of ministers or not, but definitely cannot act on the advice of the opposition. Singhvi said if the rebel MLAs are allowed to vote on Thursday, then the court would be permitting voting by MLAs who could be disqualified later, which goes to the root of democratic principles.
At this, the bench queried Singhvi that suppose a government knows that they have lost the majority in the House, and the Speaker is asked to issue disqualification notices to those withdrawing support. Then at that point, should the Governor wait for calling a floor test or can he independently decide, it asked.
“What should the Governor do? Can he exercise his discretion?”
Singhvi added that the resolution sent to the Speaker was rejected as the authenticity could not be verified, as the communication was sent from unverified email. He asked how can the Governor, who just recovered from Covid, after a meeting with the Leader of Opposition, ask for a floor test the next day? Will it not blow the 10th Schedule (anti-defection law) to smithereens?
Singhvi added that the people who have changed sides cannot represent the will of the people. He said, “Will heavens fall if there is no floor test tomorrow?”
During the hearing, the bench queried suppose there are two situations, one where the Speaker has passed an order and it is lying pending before the court in judicial review, and in the other situation, the Speaker has passed this order and someone has moved the top court challenging the competence of the Speaker.
The bench said as far as disqualification is concerned, “it is before us, we can decide it either way but how does the disqualification affect the floor test?”
The hearing in the matter is in progress.
Prabhu, in his plea, termed the Maharashtra Governor’s direction to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take a floor test and prove its majority on Thursday (June 30) illegal, as he didn’t take into account the Deputy Speaker’s disqualification notices to 16 rebel MLAs.
It contended that the top court is considering the validity of the disqualification proceedings and has kept the matter for hearing on July 11, and the issue of disqualification is directly connected/interlinked with the issue of floor test.
“The Governor has also not bothered about the pendency of disqualification petitions nor has he taken into consideration that this court, while being seized of writ petitions challenging the issuance of notice by the Deputy Speaker has, vide order dated June 27, issued notice and directed the matter to be listed on July 11 for further consideration,” said the plea.