SC allows Parrikar to take oath; Goa floor test on March 16

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the Goa Governor’s decision to appoint Manohar Parrikar the chief minister, but ordered a floor test within 48 hours

Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Manohar Parrikar to take oath as the new Goa Chief Minister. But the special bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar said that Parrikar should take a trust vote on March 16 at 11 am to prove his majority. He had earlier been given a fortnight to prove his majority by the Goa Governor Ms Mridula Sinha.

While Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh termed the apex court order as a “victory” for the Congress, the BJP also welcomed the decision not to stay the swearing-in of Manohar Parrikar as Goa Chief Minister, claiming it would be able to prove its majority on March 16.

“The decision of the Supreme Court is constitutionally correct,” says PDT Acharya, Constitution expert and former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha.

Congress, which was the single largest party with 17 seats as against BJP’s 13, had challenged the decision of the Governor to invite the BJP to form the Government. Both the parties had fallen short of the majority mark of 21 seats needed to form government in the 40-member Goa assembly.

However, BJP quickly secured the support of regional parties Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party and some independent MLAs and met the Governor on Sunday evening to stake its claim. The NCP has one seat and there are three independents.

“We have been requesting Honorable Governor of Goa for appointment since March 12 night but we were denied an appointment. She didn't even meet the single largest party elected by people of Goa before calling Parrikar to take oath. Is it justice ? (sic)” – tweeted Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, who was also the poll in-charge for the state.

The 17 MLAs did meet Governor Sinha on Tuesday afternoon, after the apex court verdict, and before the swearing in of Parikkar as CM.

Unhealthy precedent?

Article 164 (1) of the Constitution only says that “the Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor”, and leaves it to the discretion of the Governor. “The Governor holds a constitutional post and should not only be fair but also seen as being fair. It’s always better to follow a healthy principle,” says Acharya.

He points out that in the case of a hung Assembly, the convention has been of the Governor inviting the single-largest party, or the single-largest pre-poll alliance, to form the government.

“The Governor should not expose himself or herself to any charge of being biased. It’s best to follow a healthy convention, and leave the rest to the politicians,” says Acharya.

He points out that when the second largest party is invited to form the government, and if the supporting regional parties switch sides later, then the Governor’s decision may be up for criticism. That could happen even if the Governor selects the single-largest party to form the government; but, then, the Governor’s decision wouldn’t be criticised then as a healthy convention was followed.

Meanwhile, the Congress and its UPA allies staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha to protest the alleged efforts to install BJP government in both Goa and Manipur even though the Congress was the single-largest party in both the assemblies.

With PTI inputs.

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