Ordering Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to prove his majority in the Maharashtra Assembly, the Supreme Court Tuesday laid down the following procedure to be followed for conducting the floor test.
“Protem Speaker shall be solely appointed for the aforesaid agenda immediately.”
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari will appoint one of the 288 MLAs as pro tem Speaker to administer oath of office to the other MLAs and oversee the smooth conduct of the floor test.
Convention dictates that the most tenured MLA in the Assembly will be picked for the job but several Governors in the past have strayed from this. For the 2018 Karnataka floor test, the Governor appointed BJP MLA K G Bopaiah as pro tem Speaker. While Bopaiah had been Speaker for two terms, he was not the most senior MLA.
“All the elected members shall take oath on 27.11.2019, which exercise should be completed before 5:00 p.m.”
A three-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Ashok Bhushan said the MLAs have not been administered oath even though “a month has elapsed since the declaration of election results.”
The bench deemed it was necessary to pass interim directions in the case in order to “curtail unlawful practices such as horse trading, to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable Government.”
“Immediately thereafter, the Protem Speaker shall conduct the floor test…”
The bench said it “is necessary and expedient to conduct the floor test as soon as possible to determine whether the Chief Minister, who was administered the oath of office, has the support of the majority or not.”
The floor test will not be conducted by secret ballot, the bench added.
“The proceedings have to be live telecast, and appropriate arrangements are to be made to ensure the same.”
While the apex court allowed private television channels to broadcast the proceedings during the 2018 Karnataka floor test, it also said that adequate security arrangements shall be made by the Director General of Police who will ensure that there is “no lapse on this count whatsoever”. No similar order on security arrangements was passed in the Maharashtra case, but the court allowed for live telecast of the proceedings.