Updated: April 13, 2020 6:12:58 pm
In a breather for the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court on Monday held valid Governor Lalji Tandon’s decision to order a floor test in the state assembly after the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs.
The apex court bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said the Governor was “right in ordering the floor test given the fact of the case” and that it was necessary as the Congress government had lost the majority.
In its 68-page judgment, the bench rejected the contention of then chief minister, Kamal Nath, that the Governor can at best call for a session but not ask for a floor test in a running assembly. The top court also relied on the 1994 verdict of Justice Bommai which held that a Chief Minister’s refusal to test his strength on the floor of the Legislative Assembly can well be interpreted as prima facie proof of his no longer enjoying the confidence of the legislature.
The court had on March 19 asked Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker N P Prajapati to reconvene a special session the next day with a sole agenda of conducting the floor test. It had directed that there shall be “single agenda” before the assembly whether the Congress government continues to enjoy the confidence of the House and the voting shall take place by “show of hand”.
In the 2018 assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP had won 109 seats while the Congress won 114 and the latter formed the government with the support of four Independents, one SP, and two BSP members.
However, the 15-month-old Congress government fell when Kamal Nath resigned on March 20 before facing the Supreme Court-mandated trust vote. The vote was necessitated after former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 Congress legislators rebelled. The strength of the 230-member Assembly has come down to 206 because of the 22 resignations and two vacancies due to the death of members.
The Congress veteran said the BJP tried to plot and conspire against his government from day one with repeated warnings that the government won’t last for a fortnight or a month. He claimed the BJP spent crores on luring Congress legislators to Bengaluru by arranging planes and accommodating them in a resort there. The people, he said, will not pardon the rebel and the greedy, a reference to the rebel Congress legislators, for “this treachery”.
BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan was then sworn-in as the chief minister. After Chouhan’s oath-taking ceremony, Scindia, who has since joined the BJP, tweeted: “I am sure MP will reach new heights under your leadership.” “We will work together for state’s progress and development,’’ Chouhan responded.
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