One day ahead of the deadline set by Nagaland governor PB Acharya for chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu to take a floor test and prove his majority in the face of TR Zeliang claiming he had more MLAs on his side, the Kohima bench of the Guwahati High Court on Friday stayed the process at least till Monday.
A four-page interim order issued by Justice L S Jamir said the matter would come up for hearing again on Monday, thus giving the chief minister more time to draw up his strategy. Governor Acharya had on Thursday said he was “convinced” that Shurhozelie did not have majority support, and thus sent a second letter to the chief minister to take the floor test by Saturday.
Chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu in his petition before the Kohima bench of the Guwahati High Court on Friday argued that the decision of the Governor asking him to take a floor test on or before July 15was “ex facie unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary” and violated of the basic features of the Constitution.
The chief minister also argued that the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) coalition was intact and none of its constituent parties had withdrawn support from the government. The present “tussle” was purely an intra-party issue of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) – a constituent of DAN – which could be resolved within the party and did not require proving majority on the floor of the Assembly.
He also claimed that while the governor’s conclusion that the ministry was reduced to a minority was factually incorrect, there was also no gazette notification and other procedure calling for a special session of the Assembly to conduct a floor test. Moreover, no no-confidence was moved by any member of the House which would justify calling for a floor test.
A press release issued by the chief minister’s office late Friday evening said Shurhozelie pointed out to the High Court that the process of bye-election (in which he is seeking to be elected to the state assembly) was already under process and that it was “imperative and incumbent upon the Governor to call upon the Petitioner to prove its majority on the floor of the House only pursuant to the by-elections wherein the Petitioner is a candidate.”
Governor Acharya, by through his decision directing the chief minister to take a floor test had “virtually sought to strangulate the will of the Council of Ministers” the press release said, adding that the governor had used his office to suit his political needs. “There is no recommendation from the Council of Ministers to the Governor and the Governor on his own volition chose to impose the impugned decision upon the petitioner (the chief minister) without any legal foundation and against constitutional norms,” the press release said.
The chief minister also alleged that governor Acharya had hastily proceeded to reject his request to put the floor test on hold in order to pre-empt the already scheduled elections, without affording him an opportunity for a free and fair election for him to become a member of the House.
Earlier on Friday afternoon, the chief minister and his council of ministers met governor Acharya at the Kohima Raj Bhavan soon after his arrival from Delhi, during which the governor asked him to reconcile with the legislators. “The governor asked the chief minister to reconcile with the legislators. To this, he was told that the present crisis is an internal matter of the ruling NPF and not of the DAN government,” the CMO press release said. (ends)