Maharashtra turmoil: Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday on Ajit Pawar's coup, Assembly floor test

The Supreme Court will rule on Tuesday whether or not Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra CM was appropriate. 

Published: 26th November 2019 03:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th November 2019 10:04 AM   |  A+A-

A view of supreme court on the day of Maharashtra verdict in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo | Arun Kumar/EPS)

A view of supreme court on the day of Maharashtra verdict in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Photo | Arun Kumar/EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will rule on Tuesday whether or not Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra CM was appropriate. 

The court will also decide on the question ordering a floor test in the state Assembly.

Acting on a plea filed by Sena-NCP-Congress alliance, a three-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramanna had reserved its verdict till 10:30 am. 

Meanwhile, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the governor’s office, produced the letter by Deputy

CM Ajit Pawar stating that 54 MLAs of the NCP had elected him as the leader of the legislative party.  Mehta also submitted Fadnavis’ letter staking claim to form a government.

Fadnavis’s letter also mentions the letter by Pawar, stating that the NCP was extending the support of its 54 MLAs to the BJP.

“This court would have heard about horse-trading but this could be a case where the entire stable has been stolen,” Mehta told the bench.

Questioning Mehta, senior advocate A M Singhvi said, “What they have shown here to the bench is the signatures of all 54 NCP MLAs electing Ajit Pawar as legislative party leader. They did not sign their support for allying with the BJP to form a government. Is there a single covering letter saying this? This is a fraud on democracy. I have original affidavits which state they don’t support Pawar.”

But the affidavits were not taken on record by the SC. Senior advocate Mukul 

Rohatgi submitted that the Governor’s office acted reasonably based on the material placed before him. “One Pawar is with me, another Pawar with them. Nobody says the letter of support is fabricated,” he said.

Key Arguments

Tushar Mehta, appearing for the office of Maharashtra Governor

  • The entire stable of the Shiv Sena had ditched their pre-poll alliance with the BJP and gone to the other side and that an immediate floor test would serve as an impetus for horse-trading.

  • Maharashtra needs a stable government and President’s Rule cannot go on indefinitely. Ajit Pawar was earlier asked by BJP to join them to form the government, but he had then declined because of insufficient support from NCP MLAs.

  • Governor’s decision was sound as he received a letter from (Devendra) Fadnavis of support from 170 MLAs. Governor cannot make a roving or fishing inquiry. The letter which showed numbers was the basis of satisfaction of the Governor.

  • Can one party say that we have somehow managed the flock together and if the floor test doesn’t take place in 24 hours, they will go away?

Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for some BJP MLAs

  • One Pawar is with them. One Pawar is with me. It may be a family feud. It’s not me indulging in horse-trading. Look, my pre-poll partner goes away.

  • I go to the Governor with 170 MLAs to form government. My claim is accepted. President’s rule is revoked. I am sworn-in.

  • The floor test should be conducted after election of the Speaker, and therefore, it should not be today or tomorrow but according to the rules. Correct thing should be done.

  • This court cannot venture into when the floor test would be held or direct how the House would function because in that case it would be like Supreme Court was acting on appeal.

  • Governor acted bona fide and it is his discretion to give time for floor test.

Kapil Sibal, arguing for Shiv Sena

  • For some, opportunities came knocking in the cover of the night. Let a floor test be conducted for all to see.

  • We have original affidavits here to show that Ajit Pawar was not authorised to represent the NCP. So hold a floor test. Let the oldest member of the House be made Protem Speaker. Let the floor test be video-recorded.

  • What was the great hurry to revoke President’s Rule at 5.57 in the morning? If he waited for so long, could he not have waited for another 24 hours? What was the national emergency?

  • The only reason it was done was because an alliance was announced at 7 pm.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for NCP and Congress

  • This is a fraud of the worst kind on democracy. Does a single NCP MLA say they are ready to go join BJP?

  • Both sides agree to floor test. Why should you wait for their reply to the affidavits now? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

  • I am happy to lose on the floor of the House today. Why are you worried? (to SG Tushar Mehta).

  • Court ordered floor test in 24 or 48 hours in earlier cases so as to preserve purity of democracy.

  • It should shock the Court that somebody would get up and say, “I am NCP.” He (Ajit Pawar) has been removed as Legislative Party leader.

Maninder Singh, arguing for Ajit Pawar

  • I am NCP. As leader of party, I am entitled to take call on these issues.

  • He (Ajit Pawar) acted as the leader of the NCP legislative party on November 22. There was nothing to show otherwise on that day. The Governor acted in his discretion.

  • If the validity of the crucial documents was under cloud, the petition stands a chance to be heard. But since there is nothing controversial in the letters before the Supreme Court, the petitioners have no case.

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