SC refuses to stay Maharashtra Governor’s order to hold Assembly floor test; Uddhav Thackeray resigns

Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Maharashtra CM and MLA following the SC's order. "We respect the Supreme Court judgment. Democracy must be followed," he said in an online address

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Supreme Court
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NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court has refused to stay the floor test slated to be held at 11 am tomorrow morning in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly as per the direction of state Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

The order was passed by a bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala on a plea filed by Shiv Sena whip Sunil Prabhu challenging the Governor's direction as arbitrary and motivated.

The court said that the results of tomorrow will be subject to the final outcome of the petition before the court.

"We are not staying the floor test. We are issuing notice. You can file counter. We will hear on merits along with other cases on July 11. The result of tomorrow will depend on final outcome of this petition," the court directed.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray resigned following the development. "We respect the Supreme Court judgment. Democracy must be followed," Thackeray said in an online address.

He also resigned as member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

During the hearing held today, Shinde's lawyers told the apex court that the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP government has lost its majority as most of Sena MLAs were with him.

Earlier in the day, the political tussle in Maharashtra that started with Shinde's rebellion against Thackeray's leadership more than a week ago entered a decisive phase when Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari ordered the state government to take a floor test in the Assembly on Thursday.

The governor's decision was preceded by a visit on Tuesday night by a BJP delegation which demanded a floor test claiming that the Sena-led government was in minority.

Thackeray-led Shiv Sena's chief whip Sunil Prabhu then moved the Supreme Court against Governor Koshyari's direction.

Shinde's lawyers told the Supreme Court that the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Sena is in a hopeless minority within the party and a floor test in the Assembly is the best way to stop horse-trading.

Shinde's counsel told a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala that any delay in the floor test would cause more damage to the democratic polity.

Senior advocate N K Kaul, appearing for Shinde, argued that the pendency of disqualification proceedings before the speaker is no ground to delay the floor test.

“Dance of democracy takes place on the floor of the House and that is what is being sought to be done,” Kaul told the bench.

During the arguments, the bench observed that the floor of the House is the only way to settle these issues of democracy.

The bench also asked senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for Prabhu, how can floor test impact the disqualification process or interfere with the powers of the speaker to conduct disqualification proceedings.

“Our understanding is that floor of the house is the only way to settle these issues of democracy,” the bench observed.

Singhvi told the apex court that people who have changed sides do not reflect the will of people and heavens won't fall if the floor test is not held tomorrow. He argued that the court must not allow a floor test to be held till the deputy speaker decides on the disqualification petition against some rebel MLAs.

Elsewhere, after spending eight days in Assam, rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Shinde left Guwahati on Wednesday evening for Goa.

A charter plane of private carrier SpiceJet took off at 6.56 pm from the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport in Guwahati for the Dabolim airport in Goa, official sources told PTI.

The Shiv Sena MLAs along with some Independent legislators were camping in Guwahati, around 2,700 km away, since June 22, plunging their government in Maharashtra into crisis.

Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Ashok Singhal, BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das, and MLAs Diganta Kalita and Sushanta Borgohain accompanied them to the airport.

Guwahati Police Commissioner Harmeet Singh, Joint Commissioner Partha Sarathi Mahanta and other senior officers were also present at the airport, which was being guarded by hundreds of policemen since the morning.

Speaking to reporters at the airport, Shinde objected to being called Shiv Sena "rebels" and asserted that the members of his group were the "real Shiv Sainiks".

He said that the MLAs accompanying him have planned to reach Mumbai on Thursday to participate in the floor test ordered by the Maharashtra governor.

"We will decide our future strategy after that," Shinde said when asked if the dissidents will support a BJP-led government.

Governor Koshyari in his letter to Assembly secretary directed that a special session of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) shall be summoned on June 30 (Thursday) at 11 am "with the only agenda of a trust vote against the chief minister, and the proceedings shall be concluded in any case by 5 pm." "The proceedings of the House shall be telecast live and appropriate arrangements for the same shall be made," he said.

In the letter, the governor cited an e-mail sent by seven independent MLAs on Tuesday, in which they said that the Maharashtra chief minister has lost the confidence of the majority on the floor of the House, thereby making it imperative to conduct a floor test at the earliest.

Chairing a cabinet meeting even as his government faced a serious crisis, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday evening said he was betrayed by his own people. But as per officials, he did not hint that he was planning to quit.

(With agency inputs)

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    Published: 29 Jun 2022, 9:40 PM