The Congress-JD(S) combine on Thursday referred to six past precedents to buttress its argument in the Supreme Court on the Karnataka crisis that coalitions commanding majority have been given the opportunity to form government in the past. A special bench of three-judges headed by Justice A K Sikri was told by the senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi that deliberate delay in inviting the leader of Congress-JD(S) combine to form government in Karnataka amounted to subverting democracy.
Singhvi referred to five instances, the latest one being in February this year in Meghalaya. In Meghalaya assembly polls, the single largest party Congress had 21 seats but the alliance which was invited to form government by the Governor was a combination of National Peoples Party-UDP-PDF-HSDP-BJP having 37 seats in total. “In 2017, in Manipur assembly election, the Congress party got 28 seats but the party or alliance which was invited to form the government by the governor was BJP with support from Naga Peoples Front”, he said.
The third incident he cited was of Goa assembly election in which Congress got 17 seats but the alliance, which was called to form the government was BJP with support from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and others which had a total of 22 seats. Similarly, Singhvi referred to the 2013 assembly polls in Delhi, where BJP despite having 31 seats in the 70-member House was not called, but the alliance of Aam Aadmi Party and Congress was called to form government.
“In 2005, Jharkhand assembly election, BJP having got 30 seats in the 81-member House was not called and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) with support from Congress was called by the Governor to form the government,” he said. Referring to the 2002 Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, Singhvi said the National Conference got 28 seats, but People’s Democratic Party and Congress combine was called to form the government.
Returning to the May 12 Karnataka assembly elections, Singhvi said, “This inaction on the part of the governor is directed to somehow benefit the BJP which has a strength of 104 MLAs in the legislative assembly and is attempting to reach the half-way mark by undemocratic means and attempts to poach the MLAs of the INC-JD(S) alliance with a naked allurement of money and muscle power”. He said the Congress-JD(S) had staked claim to form the government but the BJP, which is at the Centre, tried to use the Governor’s office to somehow delay the invitation to the combine so that in the ensuing time, “all kinds of unconstitutional and illegal means can be adopted” to form the government in the state.
“Such manoeuvring by the BJP and the governor to suit their political agenda actually amounts to a death knell to democracy which is a basic feature of our Constitution,” he said, adding that discretionary powers of the Governor are not beyond the judicial review and any illegal and arbitrary decision taken is liable to be struck down by the court.