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Tamil Nadu Governor must expedite floor test, say legal eagles

While the time frame for calling a CM to prove his majority falls under the Governor’s discretionary powers, if delayed, even that can be subject to legal scrutiny.

Published: 23rd August 2017 01:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2017 07:10 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MADURAI: Six months after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami proved his majority on the floor of the Assembly, he might have to an encore, this time because of challenge from the T T V Dhinakaran camp. After 19 AIADMK MLAs submitted a letter to Governor Ch Vidhyasagar Rao stating they were withdrawing support, the Rao flew back to Maharashtra.

Pointing to the prolonged silence of the Governor on an earlier occasion  when the O Panneerselvam faction tried to pull down the Palaniswami government, legal experts opine that though the time frame for calling a chief minister to prove his majority falls under the Governor’s discretionary powers, he is constitutionally bound to seek a floor test without delay.

Advocate Lajapathi Roy said only the time frame for calling a government to prove its majority falls under the discretionary powers of a Governor. If it gets delayed, even that can be subjected to judicial review. The Governor should act on the principle laid down by the Supreme Court in S R Bommai case, he said.
Advocate T S R Venkataramanan, a former MLA who resigned his post during the 1988 floor test, said democracy is a game of numbers and the process to prove it starts immediately after a ‘no confidence’ letter is submitted to the Governor by the aggrieved MLAs. To determine the majority and avoid horse trading, it is necessary for the Governor to act as soon as possible.

Pointing to the recent Supreme Court judgment on the Nabam Tuki-led government in Arunachal Pradesh, retired Madras High Court judge D Hariparanthaman told Express, it is mandatory for the Governor to call for a floor test and the time he gives the chief minister to do so should be reasonable - not more than five days - failing which the aggrieved can take the matter to court. He added that it is not good for democracy to let the aggrieved move the court.

He also added that though the Governor can use his discretion, it cannot be conflated with constitutional powers to summon the chief minister to prove his majority in the House.

Commenting on it, Madurai Central DMK legislator P T R Thiyagarajan quipped that the Governor promptly appeared in Chennai hours before the AIADMK reunion and patiently waited to administer the oath of office to the new ministers. That level of care and concern for Tamil Nadu was not visible after the 19 MLAs submitted their individual letters to him on Tuesday announcing withdrawal of support, he alleged.

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