NEW DELHI: Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon is within his constitutional rights to ask Chief Minister Kamal Nath for a floor test but neither he nor Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati has absolute authority in the matter, according to legal and constitutional experts.
On Saturday, Tandon asked the Nath government to conduct a floor test on Monday to prove his majority in the Assembly and suggested that the proceedings of the confidence motion be videographed.
But the Assembly proceedings today concluded with only the Governor’s address as the Speaker adjourned the House till March 26, citing the coronavirus outbreak. Besides, Nath also wrote to the Governor challenging his authority in the matter wherein he referred to a 2016 Supreme Court order on a similar crisis in Arunachal Pradesh where the apex court had ruled that “the Governor’s connectivity to the House in the matter of sending messages, must be deemed to be limited to the extent considered appropriate by the Council of Ministers... messages addressed by the Governor to the House must be consonance with the aid and advice tendered to him.”
But in the afternoon, the Governor again wrote to Nath, asking him to conduct a floor test on Tuesday or “it would be understood that you no longer enjoy majority in the House,” setting the stage for a clash between the two constitutional authorities. Since the Governor is the Constitutional head of the government, the person holding the post has the responsibility to ensure that there is majority support for the government all the time.
When in doubt, the Governor can ask the government to prove its majority. This process is conducted by the Speaker, who runs the assembly. Using this power, Tandon asked the Nath government to prove majority.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said, “As per the constitution no one has an absolute authority on the matter. The Governor is within his rights to send a message to the assembly under Article 175 (2) of the Constitution, to conduct a floor test. Now it is the assembly’s decision on what it wants to do. The Speaker is only the representative of the House.”
Supreme Court lawyer KV Dhananjay said, “In this case, the Speaker can very well use his discretionary powers and can cite logistical issues for not conducting the floor test. Moreover, in the event of an epidemic, the safety of citizens is paramount. And, in the context of the House, it is the safety of the elected representatives that should matter.”
Jolt to Congress, as one more Gujarat MLA quits
Another Gujarat Congress MLA tendered his resignation from the Assembly, following in the footsteps of four others on Sunday. Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi on Monday said he had received and accepted letters of resignation of five Congress MLA. The desertions could hurt Congress’ bid to elect 2 members to the Rajya Sabha.
CM Kamal Nath writes letter to Governor Lalji Tandon, questioning his brief to hold a trust vote
Congress and BJP MLAs reach Assembly
BJP members demand holding of trust vote by CM via floor test as directed by the Governor
Vidhan Sabha adjourned for five minutes over ruckus by BJP members
Speaker Narmada Prasad Prajapati adjourns Vidhan Sabha till March 26
The BJP parades its MLAs to press for a floor test
Govenor requests CM to hold a floor test on Tuesday
Chief Minister Kamal Nath called on Governor Lalji Tandon later on Monday evening