Manohar Parrikar as Goa CM: SC allows swearing-in ceremony, floor test to be held on Thursday

The tussle for government formation in Goa reached the Supreme Court, with the state Congress legislative party leader challenging the invitation extended by Governor Mridula Sinha on Sunday to BJP leader Manohar Parrikar to form government. The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the swearing in of BJP leader Manohar Parrikar as the chief minister of Goa and ordered a floor test on 16 March (Thursday). A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar directed that the Assembly session be called at 11 am on 16 March and made it clear that the only business of the House would be the holding of floor test after swearing in of the members.

The bench also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R K Agrawal directed that all prerequisites for holding the floor test be completed by Wednesday including the Election Commission related formalities. The apex court disposed of the petition of Congress, challenging Goa Governor Mridula Sinha's decision to appoint Parrikar as chief minister, and said all issues raised in it can be resolved by a simple direction of holding the floor test.

The Supreme Court bench also observed that numbers should determine the single largest party in Goa and the bench asked the Congress why they didn't approach the governor to stake claim to form the government. The SC also asked the Congress to show the numbers.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary Girish Chodankar claimed that governor should have rightfully invited the Congress to form a government in Goa, because it had emerged as the single-largest party, with 16 seats in the 40-member Goa Legislative Assembly, following the election on 4 February.

"We were the single-largest party. The governor should have invited us to form government according to established constitutional practice," Chodankar said.

Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar will take oath as Goa CM at 5 pm on 14 March.

Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar will take oath as Goa CM at 5 pm on 14 March.


In his petition, Goa Congress leader Chandrakant Kavlekar cited the apex court's decision in the Rameshwar Pandit judgement, where the Supreme Court had said that the single-largest party should be allotted the first attempt to form government in case of a hung assembly.

"Governor overlooked Sarkaria Commission Report and MM Punchi Commission Report. These reports were also upheld and endorsed by the court in Nabam Rebia and Bamang Felix V. Deputy Speaker AP Assembly matters," Chodankar said in the petition.

The bench also requested the Governor to summon the House for conducting the floor test. It said Congress has failed to come out with affidavits of any elected MLAs of two regional parties, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP), or the independents indicating support to it.

It also took on record a letter showing support of three members of MGP, three of GFP and two independents to BJP taking the party's strength to 21 in the House of 40.

During the hearing, the bench said, "You (Congress) don't have the numbers and that is why you did not claim to form government. You have not demonstrated before the Governor that the number is in your favour." The court told the Congress that instead of putting forth their arguments before the court, the party should have done so before the governor.

The bench also said that the pleadings of the Congress leader were not proper as they have not impleaded Manohar Parrikar, who has been invited to form the government, as a necessary party.


"You (Congress) know his name (Parrikar). He has been the defence minister of the country", the bench said and added "you don't even implead the CM. You don't have the affidavit of the members who are supporting you. So sensitive the matter is and you don't do anything."

The bench refused the plea of Goa Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Chandrakant Kavlekar whose counsel and senior advocate Abhishek Mani Singhvi wanted a composite floor test before the oath taking of Parrikar as chief minister.

The petition was filed on Monday evening by the CLP leader and it was mentioned at the residence of the CJI who had agreed to give an urgent hearing. A special bench was constituted as the apex court is on Holi break for a week. Besides staying Parrikar's swearing-in, the petition has also sought quashing of the decision of the governor to appoint the BJP leader as the chief minister.

The petition, filed by advocate Devdutt Kamath, has made the Centre and Goa as the parties.

The Goa CLP leader has argued that the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the polls and under the constitutional convention, the Governor was bound to invite the single largest party to form the government and give it the opportunity to prove majority in the floor test.

It said the decision of the governor is a blatantly unconstitutional action and is illegal, arbitrary and violative of the basic features of the Constitution. He added that the decision was hastily taken by the governor on 12 March. Further, the advocate has said it was wrong on the part of the Governor to invite the BJP-led alliance for government formation as there was no pre-poll alliance.

In the 40-member House, the Congress has 17 MLAs, followed by the BJP with 13, the MGP (3), the GFP (3), the NCP (1) and Independents (3). Parrikar had on March 12 submitted evidence before the Governor showing the support of 13 MLAs of the BJP, 3 MLAs of the MGP, 3 of the Goa Forward Party and two Independent MLAs thus having a total strength of 21 MLAs in the 40-member assembly.

Manohar Parrikar is slated to be sworn-in as the chief minister on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, AICC General Secretary and in-charge of party affairs in Goa, Digvijaya Singh said that the party members are slated to meet the governor at 1.30 pm on Tuesday.

 

Follow live updates on Goa here.

With inputs from agencies


Published Date: Mar 14, 2017 01:51 pm | Updated Date: Mar 14, 2017 01:51 pm


Also See