Updated: March 19, 2020 11:57:47 pm
Ruling that the uncertainty over the Madhya Pradesh government should end, the Supreme Court Thursday directed Madhya Pradesh Speaker NP Prajapati to conclude the floor test in the Assembly 5 pm Friday.
The apex court bench, headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, said that the voting would be held by show of hands and video of the Assembly proceedings would be recorded and possibly live-streamed. Directing the Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka police commissioners to provide security to the rebel Congress MLAs if they wish to appear in Assembly for the trust vote, the bench said the Assembly would have a single-point agenda of the floor test.
Asking the state Assembly Secretary to ensure that there was no breach of law and order, it said no hindrance should be created for anyone.
Meanwhile, late on Thursday night, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly speaker accepted the resignation of 16 legislators, reducing the effective strength of the Assembly to 206.
Both BJP and Congress have issued a whip to their MLAs for Friday’s vote. Chief Minister Kamal Nath will address a press conference Friday noon at his official residence.
The 15-month old Kamal Nath-led Congress government was pushed to the brink of collapse after its prominent leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and in a coordinated rebellion 22 MLAs loyal to him put in their papers last week. Scindia joined the BJP on March 11.
सुप्रीम कोर्ट के आदेश का व इसके हर पहलू का हम अध्ययन करेंगे , हमारे विधि विशेषज्ञों से चर्चा करेंगे , सलाह लेंगे , फिर उसके आधार पर निर्णय लेंगे।
— Office Of Kamal Nath (@OfficeOfKNath) March 19, 2020
Reacting to the order, Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s office tweeted that they would study every aspect of the court order and then decide upon it after talking to their legal experts. “We will study the Supreme Court order and every aspect of it, discuss it with our legal experts, take advice, then decide based on it,” Kamal Nath’s office tweeted.
Welcoming the SC order, BJP leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said it is the “defeat of plans by Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh”.
SC suggests Speaker interact with rebel MLAs via video link, he refuses
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court suggested that Speaker NP Prajapati should interact with the rebel Congress MLAs through a video link or the court can appoint an observer to put an end to the fear that the legislators are in captivity. Prajapati, however, refused to accept the proposal.
“We can appoint an observer to Bengaluru or some other place so that the rebel MLAs can connect with the Speaker through video conferencing after which he can decide,” news agency PTI had quoted the Supreme Court as saying. It also questioned the Speaker on whether any inquiry was made on the rebel MLAs’ resignation and what decision has been taken on them.
Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, counsel for the Speaker, said the court should grant two weeks’ time to Prajapati to decide on the resignations.
Lashing out at the Congress, Chouhan said, “Why do they (Congress) want more time? for engaging in horse-trading? Now they know that they do not have the numbers. It is an excuse to get some more transfers done.”
With the floor test looming, the Kamal Nath government has filled the vacant posts of chairperson of the Madhya Pradesh State Commissions for Women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes and Youth, which had seen intense jockeying among the hopefuls in the past. The government has also appointed two members of the state Public Services Commission (PSC) and the chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Private University Regulatory Commission (MPPURC).
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had turned down the proposal for producing 16 rebel MLAs of the Congress in the judges’ chamber. It also observed that they may or may not go to the Assembly but they cannot be held captive.
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