While the Maharashtra Congress appears to have decided to step up the pressure on the BJP over the controversial voice vote, the party may achieve next to nothing. For one, the Congress cannot approach a court of law — the Speaker’s decision remains final even in the eventuality of the MLAs reviewing the recording of the proceedings and registering a protest regarding the manner in which the voice vote was conducted.
Former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha and eminent expert on Constitutional matters Subhash C Kashyap said there was no provision to approach a court of law in such a situation. “Courts cannot interfere in what happens in the Houses of legislature just as the legislature cannot interfere in the matters of courts,” he told The Indian Express. According to Kashyap, the trust vote being an ordinary motion can be passed by a simple voice vote. No specific procedure is stated for the process, unlike a no-confidence motion for which a specific procedure is detailed.
“Most decisions are taken by voice vote, and unless a division of votes is demanded, there is no division given,” he added. There is, however, a set procedure for the voice vote. “The Speaker says the question is that the motion be passed, those in favour say aye, those against say nay,” explained Kashyap. He may then say he thinks “the ayes have it”. “At this stage, any member can seek a division of votes. And the Speaker is practically bound to give it. Then he repeats twice, ‘the ayes have it’, ‘the ayes have it’, the motion is passed. Once this is declared, it is final, and thereafter nobody can seek a division of votes,” Kashyap said.
The problem with Wednesday’s incident is that it remains unclear when the division was sought. In addition, whether the Speaker heard the nays is also unclear. The Congress has said it would like to see a recording of the proceedings, a demand that Kashyap said any member could make and then register a protest with the Speaker. “But the Speaker’s decision remains final.”