Uttarakhand crisis: Supreme Court may order 'composite floor test'

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday suggested that it may order a 'composite floor test' for Uttarakhand Assembly as was directed by the apex court in 2005 in Jharkhand when BJP leader Arjun Munda had challenged the government formation by JMM supremo Shibu Soren.

"The floor test (in Uttarakhand Assembly) can be on Jharkhand Model," a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh.

Supreme Court of India. AFP

Supreme Court of India. AFP

While senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for sacked Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, was advocating that the floor test in the assembly would be like a vote of confidence for him, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was toeing the bench's suggestion and submitted that it can be decided after a debate when the matter is taken again on Friday.

The apex court on 9 March 2005 had passed the order for Jharkhand Assembly on the line of its earlier order for a composite floor test in Uttar Pradesh in 1998.

It had directed the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to "see that all elected MLAs attended the proceedings of the Assembly freely, safely and securely without any interference by anybody".

In the Jharkhand matter, Rohatgi had then appeared for Munda as a senior advocate and Singhvi had represented the then state government which was formed after the then Governor Syed Sibtey Razi had invited Soren to form the government despite the claim of the NDA to have majority support.

The order, in which the apex court had also directed video-recording of the proceedings of the floor test, had evoked mixed reaction from the legal experts as some had favoured the recording while others had raised eyebrows saying that it amounts to judicial over-reach and encroaching the domain of the Speaker or the pro-tem Speaker.

The apex court in the Jharkhand case had also advanced the date of floor test to 11 March from 15 March to determine who — UPA nominee Shibu Soren or NDA's Arjun Munda — commands majority in the House.

The top court had also stayed any move to nominate a representative of the Anglo-Indian Community as a Member of the House by saying this could wait till a "legitimate" government took over after the floor test on 11 March.

The court had advanced the floor test date to 11 March wondering as to why the Governor had given five days more to the Soren government to prove its majority even though the MLAs were to take oath on 10 March 2005.

AG said the situation in Uttarakhand is one where both the parties will face the floor test to prove their majority.

Singhvi said the floor test cannot be for the party which was not in power and the person who has to be called to prove the majority is one who was the chief minister.

Amidst the deliberation, the bench said, "we will not restore the status quo ante by asking Rawat to prove majority".

"The floor test (in Uttarakhand Assembly) can be on Jharkhand Model," the bench said while referring to apex court's earlier order of 9 March 2005 in which a 'composite floor test' was ordered when BJP leader Arjun Munda had challenged the government formation by JMM supremo Shibu Soren.

The top court had then directed the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to "see that all elected MLAs attended the proceedings of the Assembly freely, safely and securely without any interference by anybody".

The AG said the court should decide on the modalities for holding the floor test on Friday when the hearing resumes.

The bench said the interim order staying the Uttarakhand High Court's verdict quashing Presidential proclamation "will continue and remain in force till further orders".

At the outset, the AG said the apex court's yesterday's query was conveyed in right earnest but he has not received any firm instructions.

"The information which I have received this morning is that we will get back on Friday morning and that's where it stands," he said.

Sibal and Singhvi also expressed no objection to the AG's suggestion.


Published Date: May 04, 2016 08:10 pm | Updated Date: May 04, 2016 08:10 pm


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