The Supreme Court has reserved its order on the Maharashtra floor test for 10.30 am on Tuesday after hearing the plea filed by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine against the Maharashtra governor's decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared on behalf of the Centre, submitted letters of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari and Fadnavis as asked by the bench comprising justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna.
Submissions by Tushar Mehta:
- Solicitor General Tushar Mehta says he has got a copy of the decision of the Governor, but he will argue on the background of the case before showing it. He seeks time to file a detailed reply. Mehta says this is a case in which the entire stable is stolen. Mehta handed over the original letter of the Governor inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the government to the bench.
- Mehta informs bench that as per the Governor's communication to Fadnavis, the Governor acknowledges that Fadnavis has the support of 170 MLAs including 54 NCP MLAs. He concludes his arguments by stating the Governor had no reason to disbelieve Ajit Pawar.
Submissions by Mukul Rohatgi:
- Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Fadnavis, argued: "One Pawar is with me and now the other Pawar has come here before the court. It’s their family feud or what?"
- SC observes that the issue is whether CM Devendra Fadnavis enjoys majority support in the House and this can only be decided through a floor test.
- Rohatgi says the Governor acted bona fide and it is his discretion to give time for the floor test. He also says SC has no jurisdiction to enter that arena.
- Tushar Mehta says nobody is denying that the floor test will be the ultimate test. But it’s going to be a test on the floor, not in the Governor's house. It’s the prerogative of the speaker to hold the floor test.
Submissions by Maninder Singh
- Senior counsel Maninder Singh, who appeared on behalf of Ajit Pawar, tells the bench: "I was authorised to lend support on the day I gave that letter. I will resolve disputes within my party. I am NCP. As leader of the party, I am entitled to take a call on these issues."
Submissions by Kapil Sibal
- Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represented Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP, began arguments. He said: "We would have gone on Nov 23 to stake claim. What was the haste to revoke president rule at 5 am. We have affidavits of 54 NCP MLAs."
- Sibal tells Ajit Pawar that Sena-NCP-Congress has the support (of 54 NCP MLAs) but he has been removed from that position from NCP.
- Sibal adds that he has also got affidavits of 154 MLAs. Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have declared their support to Uddhav Thackeray
Submissions by Abhishek Manu Singhvi
- Singhvi argued: "The signatures provided by Ajit Pawar were those which had been given for his election as legislative party chief - not to support BJP. This is a fraud on democracy. Floor test should be held immediately."
- "We will be happy to lose in the floor test today. Proof of the pudding lies in the eating."
Rejoinder submissions by Rohatgi:
- Rohatgi says, "SC cannot direct the governor to initiate the floor test within 24 hours. The court can only ask the governor to advance the floor test."
- He further said that the most important thing right now is the procedure of the appointment of a Protem Speaker, the oath of MLAs, the election of the Speaker and the agenda. This is also what the rules state.
- The procedure should be followed, he argued, adding, the floor test should be conducted after the election of the speaker and therefore it should not be today or tomorrow but according to the rules. The correct thing should be done.
The apex court reserves its order to be pronounced at 10.30 am on Tuesday