Late Saturday evening, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the Maharashtra Governor’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister, and demanded that a floor test be held within 24 hours to avoid “further horse-trading”. A Bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna will hear the plea on Sunday at 11.30 am.
The three parties also asked the court to direct Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to invite them to form a government under the leadership of Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, saying they had finalised a common minimum programme for a post-poll alliance called the ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ and had the support of more than 144 MLAs.
Saying “all the MLAs of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress are completely and solidly with the alliance except for Shri Ajit Pawar”, the petitioners said the Governor had acted in a “partisan manner” by inviting Fadnavis and allowed himself to be a “pawn in the BJP’s illegal usurpation of power”.
The parties called for a floor test to stop “illegal manoeuvres to somehow cobble up a majority”, and called Koshyari’s actions on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday “a textbook example of a governor acting at the behest of a political party in power at the Centre”. They appealed that a “special session” be held on November 24, with administering of oath to the MLAs the “only agenda”, “immediately followed by the holding of a floor test”.
The plea called the Governor’s decision to invite Fadnavis “unconstitutional, arbitrary and illegal”, “entirely mala fide” and “for extraneous considerations without even a prima facie satisfaction based on objective material that Fadnavis has majority support of the members of the House”.
The petitioners pointed out that in a decision in 2006, the Supreme Court had “categorically held that at the stage of formation of Government the test to be adopted by the Governor is the ‘prima facie’ test. If the political party and/or the alliance is prima facie able to show to the Hon’ble Governor that it has the support of the requisite majority, then the Hon’ble Governor has no choice but to invite the said party/alliance which has demonstrated with prima facie material that it has the majority to form the Government.” No such demonstration had been made by the BJP, either through letters of support or by parading of MLAs, the plea said.
The petitioners have also sought relevant records from the Governor’s office with regard to the invitation to Fadnavis.