IN A late twist to the political developments in Goa, the Congress on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging the decision of Governor Mridula Sinha to invite the BJP, which won 13 of the 40 seats in the assembly elections, to form the next state government. The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats, has prayed that the Governor’s action be set aside.
It is learnt that the Supreme Court Registry informed Chief Justice of India J S Khehar about the petition, who ordered it to be listed for hearing at 10.30 am Tuesday — the top court is closed till Monday for Holi. BJP’s Manohar Parrikar is scheduled to be sworn in as chief minister of a BJP-led coalition government on Tuesday evening.
The petition filed by Congress Legislature Party leader Chandrakant Kavlekar and filed through advocate Devdutt Kamat accuses the Governor of ignoring the fact that “there was no pre-poll alliance of any party prior to the elections”.
It also claims that the Governor’s refusal to invite the single largest party — the Congress — to have a first shot at government formation is a “complete departure from the Sarkaria Commission as well as M M Punchhi Commission recommendations”.
In doing so, the petition alleges, Sinha “acted in a brazen and unconstitutional manner with utmost haste”. It also points out that apart from the outgoing chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, six ministers also failed to get elected to the assembly.
Sources told The Indian Express that senior advocate and Congress MP Abhishekh Manu Singhvi, who was in Gujarat, was rushing back to Delhi to argue the matter.
While the S R Bommai case judgment by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that a floor test was the only way to establish majority in the House, it has been the convention to invite the leader of the single largest party or head of the pre-poll alliance with the requisite numbers to form the government and prove strength in the House.
The petition quotes the report of the Justice Sarkaria Commission, which, while dealing with the issue of use of discretion by the Governor in case of a hung house, recommended an order of preference to follow in selecting a chief minister: leader of pre-poll alliance, then leader of the “largest single party staking claim to form the government with the support of others…”
The petition also points out that the Justice M M Punchhi Commission Report on Centre-State relations also affirmed this convention.
The Congress is likely to pray that directions be issued to the Governor to invite its legislature party leader to form the government and prove majority.