In a big blow to Kamal Nath led congress Government in Madhya Pradesh the Supreme Court asked Chief Minister Kamal Nath to face floor test before 5 pm tomorrow. The Court order virtually means the end of the congress government which was rendered into minority two weeks ago when 22 MLAs walked out of the party along with Jyotiraditya Scindia. The court upheld the petition filed by former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other BJP leaders seeking immediate floor test in assembly.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress has also approached the apex court seeking directions to the Centre and the BJP Government for access which the party said virtually accused of kidnapping. It may be recalled that the Governor Lalji Tondon had written to Kamalnath saying the floor test be held on Tuesday and failure to do so would mean CM has lost majority. But, the state countered by mentioning the threat of coronavirus and qouted the advisory issued by Centre and adjourned the house till 26th march.
In the contest before the Supreme Court a bench comprising of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud & Justice Hemant Gupta was hearing the petition of the former state chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan seeking an immediate floor test. The bench asked why the Court should not appoint an observer who can report about the conduct of proceedings in the House.
Justice Chandrachud suggested a mechanism whereby the speaker can have meeting with rebel MLAs through video conferencing at a neutral place. Senior Lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the assembly Speaker disagreed and said that the issues being discussed called for a multi pronged approach. If the MLAs are disqualified, then they have to seek reelection which according to him is a constitutional sin. Engineering a change of government by a constitutional sin is the whole point of the Floor test which the petitioners are seeking, he contended.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the petitioners said the question at hand was not the resignation of MLAs: the question was whether the order of the Governor should be acted upon or to be trashed.
Thereafter, the bench asked both parties whether a court is permitted to interfere in such a case or the Governor has to draw his own remedies according to the Constitution. Referring to the various provisions of the constitution, Singhvi said that the Governor has no power to seek trust vote; rather it is only in the house where the question of majority can only arise.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the CM Kamal Nath argued that till today, nobody has claimed any majority before the Governor and also that this is the first case in history of India where the Governor is seeking majority test in an ongoing session. Nobody knows how the Governor satisfied himself that the Government has lost the majority when nobody claims it. He said that there was no material before the Governor to show that the government had lost its majority and said that the Raj Bhavan had acted merely on assumption.
Senior Advocate Rohatgi then said that that the speaker and the government were only trying to delay the floor test sought by the Governor and raising unnecessary issues of resignation of MLAs and the charges of horse trading are absolutely unjustified. He said that whether assembly is in session or not, the Governor has the power to ask for trust vote. The trust vote must be decided one way or the other, whether resignation accepted or not, disqualification done or not.