New Delhi: Taking note of Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung's efforts to break the deadlock, the Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned hearing on government formation in Delhi to November 11.
The apex court said that it would wait and watch - till the next hearing on November 11 - for the next step as there is a positive move to form a government in Delhi.
The court also noted the possibility of a minority government being formed in Delhi, saying that there are times a party with less numbers can form a government.
There could be a minority government with an outside support of a political outfit. Let us wait for sometime, the SC told the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
As the court said this, AAP counsel Prashant Bhushan said that this was another attempt to deny people of their right to have a representative government.
However, he said that they have no objection in giving Lt Governor another chance to explore the possibility of forming the government, but it should be time bound.
The court also observed that if by chance, the Lt Governor fails and the formation of the government is not possible, he may seek the advice of the President and he will take a call.
The SC was hearing a petition filed by the AAP, seeking dissolution of the Delhi Assembly and fresh polls in the national capital. The Delhi Assembly has been under suspended animation and city under President's Rule since the AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal quit in February.
At the hearing on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had slammed the Central government as well as Delhi LG Najeeb Jung for failing to break the deadlock over government formation.
“In a democracy, the President's Rule cannot go on forever,” a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu said in scathing remarks.
The remarks came after the Centre informed the SC that President has given his consent to the LG's proposal to invite the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in Delhi. The court then rapped the government for the five-month delay and questioned why the authorities failed to act expeditiously.
LG Jung, after being rapped by the Supreme Court, yesterday said he will kick off consultations with the BJP, AAP and Congress in the next couple of days in fresh efforts to install an elected government in the capital or dissolving the Assembly to pave way for elections early next year.
Jung met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and discussed with him possible solutions to end the political uncertainty in Delhi.
"In view of the President's approval to explore the possibility of installing a popular government in Delhi, the Lt Governor would be exploring the possibilities with the leaders of all political parties over the next few days," LG's office said.
BJP did not give any clear signal on its strategy but there were indications that the party was preparing for fresh polls in January or February.
On Tuesday, the bench had also asked why the Centre always comes out with one statement or another just a day before the matter is taken up for hearing by it.
“Just before matter is taken up for hearing, you make a statement. Why was it not decided earlier? How long can you go on like this?” the bench said, adding that the LG should have taken the decision at the earliest.
“We can't shrug our responsibility and we will hear the case on merit,” the bench said, adding, “in a democratic polity people have right to have government and not to be ruled by a Governor.”
Referring to the President's letter which was placed before the bench, the apex court said that “this exercise should have been done much earlier”.
At an earlier hearing on the petition, the court had asked the Centre what steps it had taken to explore the possibility of government formation.
In his letter to the President, the LG had referred to the resignation of the AAP government on February 14, saying that it was not in “the interest of public to hold elections in such a short time after the elections of December 2013”.
“In accordance with the constitutional convention and also keeping in mind the law laid down by the Supreme Court that every effort must be made to form a popular government before recommending dissolution, I shall be grateful if the Hon'ble President of India grants approval to invite BJP, that is even today the single largest party in the legislature to seek their interest in forming the government (MLA strength of all parties as well as independents is attached).
“Should the BJP agree, I would ask them to demonstrate their strength to form a stable government on the floor of the house within a stipulated time frame, possibly one week.
“Future course of action can be determined after taking into the account the response of the BJP,” the letter had said.
The BJP had emerged the single largest party after the Assembly polls in December last year with 32 seats including ally Akali Dal's one MLA in the 70-member House.
The BJP fell four seats short of a simple majority and had refused to form the government, saying it did not have the numbers and will not resort to any “unfair means” to take the reins.
The AAP with 28 MLAs had later formed the government with the support of eight Congress MLAs. AAP's strength has also come down to 27 after expulsion of party MLA Vinod Kumar Binny.
The BJP's number came down to 28 in the House in May after three of its legislators – Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Pervesh Verma – were elected to Lok Sabha.
(With agency inputs)