SC declines to interfere in Goa, orders floor test on Thursday

New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) Refusing to interfere with the Goa Governor’s decision to appoint Manohar Parrikar as the new Chief Minister, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that a floor test be held in the assembly on Thursday to determine if Parrikar enjoyed the majority support.

Parrikar was sworn in as the Goa Chief Minister on Tuesday by Governor Mridula Sinha in state capital Panji. Nine ministers were also sworn in.

A bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R.K. Agrawal said all prerequisite formalities needed for the floor test, including those by the Election Commission, will be completed by March 15.

The court said the floor test will be the only agenda of the Goa assembly when it meets on Thursday.

“During the course of hearing, we were satisfied that the instant sensitive and contentious issue raised on behalf of the petitioner can be resolved by a simple direction, requiring the holding of a floor test at the earliest. The holding of the floor test will remove all possible ambiguities, and result in giving the democratic process the required credibility,” the apex court said.

It said: “We request the Governor… to ensure that a floor test is held on March 16, and the only agenda for the day will be the holding of a floor test to determine whether the Chief Minister, administered the oath of office, has support of the majority.”

“The floor test shall be held on March 16, 2017, as early as possible, but surely during the course of the same day,” the order said.

The court direction came on a petition by Congress Legislature Party leader in the Goa assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar, who sought Governor Mridula Sinha’s decision to appoint Parrikar as the Chief Minister be put on hold and his swearing-in be scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Rejecting the plea for a composite floor test between Parrikar and Kavlekar, the bench said: “You (petitioner Kavlekar) don’t put anything on record. You don’t tell anything to the Governor. You don’t file any affidavit in a matter as serious as this. There is nothing on record.”

“You are putting us in the position of Governor. You are telling us everything that you should have told the Governor,” observed the bench as the petitioner’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi took the court through the constitutional provisions and conventions.

The bench also took exception to Kavlekar not making Parrikar a party to his petition.

“You know him. He was the Defence Minister. You don’t even implead him in the matter,” the apex court said while pointing out that “you do everything wrong. You don’t do anything and point finger at the world”.

As the petitioner’s counsel raised some point while Chief Justice Khehar was passing the order, the CJI said: “You are so fussy… don’t go into commas and full stops.”

As senior counsel Harish Salve urged the court that instead of specifically saying that the floor test should be held on a particular day, it should say as soon as possible. The Chief Justice said: “We don’t understand asap (as soon as possible). Even though we do, it has to be forthwith.”

Senior counsel Harish Salve objected when Singhvi urged the court to keep the swearing-in in abeyance till the floor test took place.

The bench asked Singhvi why did his client not repudiate the Bharatiya Janata Party’s claim to form the government in Goa, as he tried to impress upon the court that the Governor was constitutionally obliged to first call and consult the leader of the Congress Legislature Party for government formation.

“You should have sat on a dharna to point out the wrongdoings…,” the bench observed, saying that a layman would have taken 21 legislators to the Governor to prove his claim.

“You had the whole night, best time, to get the affidavits ready or present your supporters before us,” the bench observed.

The Congress is the largest party in the assembly with 19 elected lawmakers the 40-member house. However, it was outsmarted by the BJP, which cobbled a majority by garnering the support of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Block with three lawmakers each and two of the three elected Independent members.

–IANS

pk/tsb/vt

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