The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered floor test in the Maharashtra assembly to be held on Wednesday. Hours later Devendra Fadnavis resigned as chief minister, saying BJP did not have the numbers and would sit in the Opposition.
Fadnavis had been asked by the court prove majority in a trust vote to be recorded on video and telecast live on Wednesday before 5 pm.
The SC bench—comprising Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna—was hearing the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine’s plea against the state governor’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as CM.
The court said a protem speaker was to be appointed with only the agenda of conducting the floor test, Bar&Bench reported.
The SC bench said it was necessary to conduct the floor test immediately “to curtail unlawful practices such as horse trading, to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable government”.
Congress welcomed the SC order saying, “This is a victory for the Constitution of India, a victory for democracy and a victory of the truth.”
Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi said, “We will win the floor test,” NDTV quoted.
On the eve of the hearing, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine paraded 162 MLAs at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai where they reportedly took a pledge of allegiance.
The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly has a strength of 288 MLAs where the halfway mark is 145.
At Monday’s hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted letters of the governor and Fadnavis as asked by the bench, which claimed the BJP had the support of 170 MLAs, including all 54 NCP MLAs to form a government in Maharashtra.
Appearing for the Shiv Sena, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the combine had the original affidavits from 154 Maharashtra MLAs and the BJP should be asked to prove its majority within 24 hours if it has the numbers.
The Centre told the SC bench that the governor had in absolute discretion invited the largest party to form government on November 23.
Sibal, appearing for the Shiv Sena, referred to Uddhav Thackeray being declared the next Maharashtra chief minister at a press conference of the three parties.
“Where was national emergency to revoke President’s rule at 5.27 am and CM being administered oath at 8 am next morning?” Sibal asked.
The apex court said it was not considering the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress’ combine’s plea that they be invited to form government in Maharashtra.