Supreme Court of India | Photo: Mathrubhumi
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday remarked that Governor should not enter into any area which precipitates the fall of a government and called the Maharashtra political crisis a serious issue for democracy.
The remark was made by the Five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha, which was dealing with the issue related to the Maharashtra political crisis.
The remark was made after a lawyer appearing for the Maharashtra governor justified the decision taken during the time of political crisis in Maharashtra.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra Governor said power under Article 174 to conduct floor test can be exercised only when the government is formed for the first time and that was dealt with in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan case and it is a good law.
Countering the submission made by the Uddhav camp, SG Mehta explained to the top court the reason behind the Governor's invitation to Eknath Shinde for forming a government without interacting with the party and president of the Shiv Sena party on the issue.
The legislative party appointed Eknath Shinde as the group leader, he apprised the court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the only satisfaction which the governor needs to reach is that a floor test is required, however, the governor did not say that Uddhav Thackeray has lost the majority.
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said that there were three things before the governor -- the resolution by 34 MLAs which reaffirmed the leadership of Eknath Shinde, two, the letter by 47 MLAs about threats and third the letter by the leader of the opposition.
CJI Chandrachud remarked that the leader of the opposition will always write off the governor and cannot be ground for floor test including threats to security to leaders. CJI noted that the only thing which survives is the resolution of the 34 MLAs.
During the hearing, the court also remarked that Governor should not enter into any area which precipitates the fall of a government and called it a very very serious issue for democracy.
CJI Chandrachud said that the leader of the opposition will always write to the governor and threat to security is not a ground for calling for a trust vote. The only thing which survives is the resolution of the 34 legislators, the court noted.
CJI DY Chandrachud said that the governor must exercise such powers with the greatest circumspection. The court also remarked it as a very sad spectacle in the democracy irrespective of the morality of Shivsena having joined Congress.
The court remarked that one can never allow the governor to ask for a trust vote when there is absolutely nothing to shake the majority on the floor of the house as a trust vote is not to have a new political leader and somebody else could become the head of the party. Governor has no business there till that number in the alliance is the same, SC said.
Replying to the court's query, SG Mehta apprised the court of the fact that the rival legislators had written to the governor about the unwillingness to continue with the then government.
He further said that the governor has invited Thackarey for the floor test to prove his majority.
SG Mehta said that the rival members were saying they do not have confidence in the party and they are withdrawing their support. He further said that the legislative party members broke away from the legislative political party.
SG Tushar Mehta pointed out that the rival members saying that they want to withdraw support is sufficient ground for the governor to call for a floor test. He further added that only in extraordinary circumstances there can be no floor test else a floor test is a norm.
The lawyer further said that the defection is a sin but running the government after losing the trust of the house is a larger sin to which the governor should not be a party.
Concluding his arguments, SG Mehta, arguing on behalf of the governor said that threats to the life of legislators can not be taken lightly. He also said that if a law and order situation is being created to bring pressure on Legislature, then the governor has to consider such aspects too.
However, the Supreme Court said that this cannot be grounds to unseat the government.
The argument in the matter will be continued tomorrow too.
A five-judge Constitution bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed by rival factions Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis.
The Supreme Court's Constitution bench has earlier said it will decide later on referring the cases related to the Maharashtra political crisis to a larger seven-judge bench for reconsideration of a 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment on powers of Assembly Speakers to deal with disqualification pleas.