In another blow to the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday refused to order an urgent holding of floor test in Maharashtra reserving its verdict. A bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan, and Sanjiv Khanna, heard the matter and decided to pronounce the order at 10.30 am on Tuesday.
The petition was filed on Sunday against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's decision to revoke President's rule in the state and anoint Devendra Fadnavis as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar as his deputy respectively. The court on Sunday issued notices to the Centre, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said, "Governor, in this case, has given 14 days for the floor test, reasonable time can be 7 days. The most important thing right now is the procedure of Appointment of Protem Speaker, Oath, Election of Speaker, and Agenda. It cannot direct the Maharashtra Governor to initiate the Floor Test within 24 hours. Floor Test should not be tomorrow."
Lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing Shiv Sena, Congress and the NCP demanded that the floor test should be held soon.
Singhvi appearing for NCP said, "Today there is a peculiar case before your lordships that both sides agree that there should be a floor test. The question is a narrow one - As to when the floor test should be held? There was a list of signatures (of 54 NCP MLAs), but did it say that the MLAs were agreeing to support the BJP. There can be signatures without a covering letter. This is a murder of democracy! The "how" of the floor test is important here. Regardless of the party, the Senior most member of the House should be appointed Protem Speaker. Floor test should be held immediately thereafter. "Immediately" is important! It is for the purpose to preserve the purity of democracy that every order passed by the Supreme Court in the past has held that floor test to be held within 24 hours."
Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta said, "Shiv Sena has 56, NCP 54, INC 44 seats. There was talk about horse trading but Guv possibly felt that entire stability is stolen. I'm seeking time to file reply as there are questions which need to be discussed. I have the original documents with me. Letter was given by Ajit Pawar on November 22. The letter says that all the elected MLAs had elected me as the head of the NCP. The list of 54 elected NCP MLAs was attached to the letter and NCP extended its support to the BJP."
Mehta read out the letter that Fadnavis had placed before the Governor. This letter also mentions the letter written by Ajit Pawar extending support of 54 NCP MLAs. Based on this material, Fadnavis staked claim to form government in Maharashtra. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Maharashtra Governor, said, "Grant us 2-3 days' time and let us file a reply. The Governor has in absolute discretion invited the largest party on November 23."
The apex court on Sunday had asked the SG Tushar Mehta, to produce before it on Monday morning two letters--showing proof of the Governor of Maharashtra inviting BJP to form the government and the letter of support, used by Fadnavis for staking claim to form the government in the state.
At a time when deliberations among Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena on the formation of a non-BJP government in the state had seemingly reached the final stage, the BJP formed the government in a surprise development on Saturday morning when Devendra Fadnavis took oath for the second consecutive term as the state Chief Minister, with NCP`s Ajit Pawar as his Deputy Chief Minister.
On Saturday, the petitioners had filed a petition against the decision of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, inviting BJP`s Devendra Fadnavis to form the government in the state on November 23. MLAs of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress are currently staying at different hotels in Mumbai amid uncertainty over floor test.