Supreme Court declines to interfere in Goa, orders floor test on Thursday

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. 

Published: 14th March 2017 07:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th March 2017 10:19 PM   |  A+A-

Goa CM Manohar Parrikar (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: In a huge setback to Congress, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Governor Mridula Sinha to conduct the floor test on March 16 in the Goa legislative assembly for parties to prove majority.
Hours after the apex court verdict, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar took oath as Chief Minister of Goa. BJP has the support of 21 elected MLAs out of the 40 at present.
In a two-hour-long hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing on behalf of Congress raised questions on the Governor’s decision to invite Parrikar to form the government in the State despite Congress being the single largest party.
“It is clear from the Arunachal Pradesh judgment that the Governor has discretion in situations like this,” CJI said.
Singhvi said, “We have the support of the 21 MLAs with us.”
This led CJI to remark, “You should have gone with your list to the Governor and told her ‘Here we have the numbers to form the government’. You should have gone on a dharna in front of the Governor’s residence if you had the numbers and someone else was staking a claim to form the government.  You (Congress) could have proven your numbers anytime, even after approaching the Supreme Court. In the night or even today. But so far you have done nothing. You did not even have the affidavits filed before us for the record to prove that you have numbers.”
The court also took exception to the fact that, Congress in its plea has not made Parrikar as party and said, “You should have made him a party when you knew he is going to become the CM. You want an order behind the back of a man and we shall not allow this.”
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar filed an order that states, “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 would remove all possible ambiguities, and would result in giving the democratic process, the required credibility.”
“We direct that all pre-requisite formalities for holding a floor test, including the formalities required to be completed by the Election Commission be completed by March 15. The only agenda on March 16 for the assembly would be the holding of a floor test to determine whether the Chief Minister has support of the majority,” the bench in its order stated on the plea filed by Goa Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Chandrakant Kavlekar.
Congress still has a ray of hope if BJP fails to prove the majority on the floor of the house.
The bench also directed Governor to have senior most member in the assembly as the protem speaker for the day when floor test is on.
It also took on record the letter submitted of the Governor in which she stated that BJP along with its 13 elected members have the support of members of the regional parties-- Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has three MLAs and Goa Forward Party (GFP) also has three MLAs -- and the independents taking the tally to 21 to attain majority in the house.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appeared for the governor and said that a floor test can be conducted “as soon as possible”. The court rejected his submission and said that a floor test must be conducted forthwith.
The newly-elected Congress legislators in Goa have also decided to meet the governor later on Tuesday to stake claim to form the government. The MLAs chose senior legislator Chandrakant Kavlekar as the new Congress Legislative Party leader on Monday after day-long deliberations.


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