The Supreme Court will Wednesday hear a plea by Shiv Sena Legislature Party Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu challenging Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s direction to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to hold the floor test on Thursday.
Senior Advocate A M Singhvi mentioned the plea before a vacation bench headed by Justice Surya Kant and sought urgent listing. Terming the floor test ordered by the Maharashtra Governor “completely illegal”, Singhvi urged the bench also comprising Justice P D Pardiwala that it be listed later today. “Because for the simple reason a floor test cannot include names which are stigmatised or which cannot otherwise be counted. It will go to the root of democracy,” he said.
If not heard today, the “entire exercise will become futile because which cannot be counted will be counted”, added Singhvi.
When Justice Surya Kant sought to know if he had served the petition to the other side, Singhvi said it will be served by afternoon. He added that the notice has come just now and the floor test is notified Thursday morning, starting at 11 am.
The senior counsel said only a “short hearing” would be needed. required. “There is no other way,” he said adding “we mentioned this apprehension to Your Lordships on the last occasion”.
“Your Lordships on the one hand contemplates that it will be heard on July 11,” he said apparently referring to the SC listing the plea by the MLAs challenging the disqualification notice to them on July 11. “On the other hand, the matter is used to cast votes on a floor test which determines the outcome already…The authorities have given just one day notice,” he said adding that there was, therefore, no option but to trouble the court.
Appearing for the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul said the calling of the floor test is the prerogative of the government. “In any case, it’s not really for the Governor to answer but…the position in law is very clear. The pendency of a disqualification application has nothing to do with a floor test. Political accountability can only be determined on the floor of the House and should never be indicted is what the SC has said”.
Kaul said the other side is “trying to confuse” and added, that to say it has to be taken up urgently on Wednesday evening is unfair. “The matter should be taken up tomorrow”.
Justice Surya Kant said, “Whatever may be the outcome of the proceedings, that’s a different issue. We may agree, we may not agree. That will depend ultimately on what are the legal arguments raised and how do we react to them. What is the court’s perception of it? Keeping in view the kind of urgency… I think we would like to hear the matter today”.
The bench then listed it for hearing at 5 pm.