Amid the ongoing high-octane political drama in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court on Sunday (November 24) rejected Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress' request to hold an immediate floor test in the state. The SC, however, issued notices to the Centre, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar on a plea filed by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Cong challenging Maharashtra Governor's decision to swear in Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar as chief minister and deputy CM on Saturday (November 23).
The notices were issued by a bench of Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna. The SC bench also ordered Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to produce letters of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday (November 25) at 10.30 am for passing orders in this matter.
During the hearing in the apex court, the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena demanded that the SC order an immediate floor test so that the BJP can prove it has the numbers. The three parties also accused Governor Koshyari of bias and stressed that the lifting of President’s Rule was “shrouded in mystery”.
Shiv Sena lawyer Kapil Sibal told before the top court that he had not seen such things happen in Indian democracy. “Governor advises and President’s Rule is revoked, no cabinet meeting was held. At 8 am, the swearing-in happened. What are the facts and on what basis did the Governor decide is shrouded in mystery,” Sibal said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that the plea of Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP should be dismissed because political parties do not have fundamental right to form the government.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for some BJP and Independent MLAs, said the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP should have approached the Bombay High Court instead of the SC in this matter.
During the hearing, NCP lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the alliance has the support of 41 NCP MLAs, which means that the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP combine has a total strength of 141 MLAs, which is 4 short of magic mark of 145 MLAs in 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. Singhvi's statement is surprising because the NCP has been claiming that it has the support of 50 out of its 54 MLAs.
Reacting to SC's order, NCP leader Nawab Malik said, "We welcome the SC order. All the MLAs will be back by evening. Sharad Pawar is coming here to meet the MLAs. Devendra Fadnavis should resign as he doesn't have numbers. If he doesn't resign then we will defeat him."