Top Court asks Centre, Fadnavis to show letters of BJP staking claim

14r1o6pg_supreme-court_625x300_29_July_19NEW DELHI : The Top Court on Sunday asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to produce two letters before the court by Monday morning showing proof of the Governor of Maharashtra inviting BJP to form the government and another letter showing Fadnavis staking claim to form the government.
The letters have to be submitted by 10.30 am tomorrow. In an extraordinary hearing on a Sunday, a three-judge bench also issued notice to Mr Fadnavis, his deputy Ajit Pawar, the state and the Central government.
Countering the need for hurry, the BJP claimed that the Governor’s decision cannot be subject to a judicial review. It had also asked for more time to produce the letters, which was turned down by the court.
The Centre must produce the letters of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis claiming majority and that of the Governor inviting to form government, the Supreme Court said today after hearing a petition of the Shiv Sena, Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP against yesterday’s extraordinary government formation in the state.
upreme Court was hearing an urgent petition filed by the NCP-Shiv Sena-Congress alliance following Devendra Fadnavis’s surprise swearing-in as the chief minister of Maharashtra on Saturday morning. The newly formed alliance moved the Supreme Court seeking to quash the governor’s decision to swear-in Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister and hold an immediate floor test.

For now, Mr Fadnavis is safe from the three parties’ demand that he take a test of strength on the floor of the Maharashtra assembly within 24 hours. “Floor test is the hallmark of democracy. No formalities required,” Abhishek Singhvi, who represented the Congress, had told the court. Governor Koshiyari has not yet named a date for the floor test.
Today’s hearing comes as the BJP, with deft political manoeuvring, formed government in Maharashtra yesterday, speeding past the three parties that were trying to cobble up a front and stake claim. After President’s Rule was revoked before 6 am with special clearance from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Governor had invited Devendra Fadnavis to form government. The oath ceremony took place at 7.50 am – with Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar taking oath as Mr Fadnavis’s deputy.
It all hinges on numbers now, as the BJP claims it has the support of 54 MLAs of the NCP. Mr Pawar’s party has countered it, saying Ajit Pawar had misled the Governor, submitting a letter with list of MLAs that was meant to show support letter to the alliance.

“It is betrayal. The Governor didn’t ask for any material… The Supreme Court had ordered Karnataka floor test within 24 hours,” said Abhishek Singhvi. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was representing the Sena, said, “They say have support they say, they must be directed to take floor test”.
Appearing for the BJP MLAs and two Independents, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi claimed that the Governor’s decision cannot be subject to a judicial review. “The Governor not answerable for his actions… The Governor is immune under Article 361. There is complete bar on any action against Governor,” he said.

In 2018, after the Supreme Court ordered a trust vote, the BJP’s BS Yeddyurappa, who had taken oath as the Chief Minister, stepped down saying he didn’t have the numbers.
In their petition, the three parties have claimed that the Governor was “duty bound” to study the claim of Mr Fadnavis before inviting him to form government. This was especially so when the Sena, NCP and the Congress, which have 154 MLAs together, have expressed their intention to stake claim to form the government, they said.

“If Devendra Fadnavis has numbers to prove majority, let him prove it on floor of House, else we have numbers to form government in Maharashtra,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the combine, submitted before a bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna also isused notices to Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.(With Agency Inputs.


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