New Delhi: In a setback for the ruling Congress in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Thursday said if the state assembly is not in session and if the government loses majority, then Governor has the power to direct Speaker to hold trust vote. Also Read - Heavens Are Not Falling, Says Madhya Pradesh Congress Advocate in Supreme Court | Top Developments
“What happens when the assembly is prorogued and a government loses its majority? Cannot the Governor then call the assembly? Since not allowing this would mean a government in minority to continue,” said a bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta. Also Read - Madhya Pradesh Mayhem: Wearing a Mask, Congress Leader Digvijaya Singh Sits on Dharna Outside Bengaluru Hotel
The Bench was hearing the petition by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeking an immediate floor test in Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Also Read - Madhya Pradesh: After Issuing Notices to Kamal Nath Govt, Supreme Court to Hear Floor Test Matter Today
Amid the ongoing political crisis in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court also suggested that Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati interact with the rebel Congress MLAs through a video link or the court can appoint an observer to allay the fear that the legislators are in captivity.
The Bench said it can create conditions to ensure the exercise of the volition of the rebel MLAs is truly voluntary.
However, the Speaker refused to accept the top court’s proposal.
The Speaker asked the Court “reasonable time” — like two weeks — to decide on resignation of rebel MLAs.
“Weeks are gold mines for horse-trading. It is why the court has been proactive in ordering the floor tests. The idea is to force the hands and make sure the floor test happens as soon as possible and prevent such things,” Justice Chandrachud said in a reply to the Speaker.
It also asked the Speaker whether any inquiry was made on the resignation of the rebel MLAs and what decision has he taken on them.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Speaker, said the day court begins to give time-bound direction to the Speaker, it will be constitutionally problematic.
The counsel appearing for Governor Lalji Tandon told the bench that Chief Minister Kamal Nath was “sitting aside” in the turn of events and it is the Speaker who is “leading the political battle” in court.
The bench asked all the parties how does the decision of a Speaker in matters of resignation and disqualification of MLAs affect the floor test.
It said the constitutional principle that emerges is that there is no restraint on trust vote because of resignation or disqualification being pending before the Speaker. It said, therefore, the court will have to flip around and see whether the Governor acted beyond the powers vested in him.
Though a total of 22 rebel MLAs have resigned, the Speaker on March 14, only accepted the letters of six, who were also ministers.
They were taken off their posts by Governor Lalji Tandon on the recommendation of beleaguered Chief Minister Kamal Nath on March 10.
Notably, the BJP has 107 seats in the House, which now has an effective strength of 222, with the majority mark being 112.
(With agency inputs)