Opinion among legal experts is divided over Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s move against granting the Shiv Sena more to submit the requisite letters of support, showing it has confidence of a majority of the legislature.
While Maharashtra’s former Advocate General Sreehari Aney backed Koshyari’s decision, retired Supreme Court judge P B Sawant called it “partial” and “unreasonable.”
Going by the evolving political situations, Aney also stated that imposition of President’s rule now appears to be a “foregone conclusion.”
While the election results were declared on October 24, no party had stepped forward to stake claim. On Saturday, the Governor invited BJP, the single largest party, to indicate its ability to form the government. After the BJP indicated its inability on Sunday, the Governor immediately invited the Sena. But while the BJP was given 48 hours to indicate its willingness, Sena was given 24 hours. Just before the deadline was to expire, a Sena delegation met Koshyari, expressing the party’s willingness to form the government, but they could not submit the requisite letter of support, and the Governor denied them any extension in time.
Retired Justice Sawant said, “The Governor can give the BJP 15 days to form the government but he cannot give more than 24 hours to other parties? This, on the face of it, is illegal, partial and unreasonable. There is no doubt about it. A party may say I can prove I have support of the majority on the floor of the House. The House is not formed (yet). They need not produce letters (of support). They can say we will prove our majority.”
But Aney said time given to the Sena cannot be seen from the time when Koshyari invited them. “The election results were out on October 24. It has been 18 days. It is not a question of time, but when the requisite letter of support is just not materialising, the Governor is correct in not granting any further extension,” he said. Aney also pointed out that the “three parties (Sena, NCP, and Congress) have been holding talks for many days.”
Justice Hosbet Suresh, retired judge of Bombay High Court said, “There is no mention in the Constitution about how much time should be given (for parties to form a government). It is always a sense of discretion, a sense of understanding of the situation. The Governor can always say OK, we’ll think about it; come tomorrow.”
Justice Suresh also said there is no time bar within which the next election would have to be announced if the state slips into President’s rule: “Elected members can always say we have reconciled and come back. If the Governor is satisfied he can ask them to come again. There is no such restriction that they cannot do it again. The Governor has to think twice. He may not think of imposing an early election…”
Aney said while there is no bar to stake claim even after President’s rule is imposed, any claim must be made before the schedule for next polls is declared.
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