NEW DELHI: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to deny more time to the Shiv Sena and the NCP to prove they had the numbers to form government has invited criticism from the Opposition. Legal opinion on the issue is, however, divided.
Though legal and constitutional experts agree that the Constitution is silent on how much time a governor should give to a political party to form government and only states that it is based on his discretion as head of the state, some say that the way Koshyari acted smacked of being biased towards the ruling party.
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The governor is only concerned with the fact whether or not a party is in a position to form government. If the party, which was invited by the governor to form government, seeks extension of time to work out on seat-sharing, then this is not something that the Constitution envisages,” says constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap.
He explains that the governor is well within his rights constitutionally if he denies more time to a party as this would mean that the party which was invited is not in a position to form the government. “The governor is only concerned whether the party has the numbers and capability of running a stable government in the state on the present day and not in future,” Kashyap adds.
Political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, however, says the governor’s decision should not appear to be unfair or partial. “About changing or not adhering to the deadline, constitutionally there is no provision or convention which states otherwise and the governor’s word is final. Different governors operate differently. But while being fair, he should take care to be seen as fair as well.”
Former additional solicitor general Vikas Singh is more critical of Koshyari’s action and terms it as poor in the eyes of law. “There is no convention which states that the amount of time given to a party is proportional to the number of seats. Like the governor waited from October 24 till November 9 for the BJP, he should have given more time to the Shiv Sena and then to the NCP. Failing to do this has prompted accusations that he is hand-in-glove with the ruling party.”
‘Governor should be seen to be fair’
Political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said the governor’s decision should not appear to be unfair or partial. “Constitutionally there is no provision... and the governor’s word is final. But while being fair, the governor should take care to be seen as fair as well,” he said.