Congress knocks on SC’s door

Party challenges Goa Governor’s ‘unconstitutional action’ of inviting Parrikar

March 13, 2017 11:46 pm | Updated 11:46 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court of India,  in New Delhi.
Photo: Shanker Chakravarty 10-11-2003

The Supreme Court of India, in New Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty 10-11-2003

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an urgent petition filed by the Congress challenging the “blatantly unconstitutional action” of Goa Governor Mridula Sinha to invite Goa BJP Legislature Party leader Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister.

The writ petition accused the Centre of using its political clout to defeat the mandate of the people and grab power by misusing the office of the Governor, who turned a Nelson’s eye to the fact that the Congress was voted the “single largest party in the State Legislature.” The actions of the Centre and the Governor sound the “death knell for democracy,” the petition said.

Special Bench

Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar agreed to set up a Special Bench and hear the petition filed by Chandrakant Kavlekar, the elected leader of the Goa Congress Legislature Party, on Tuesday at 10.30 a.m. Mr. Parrikar is scheduled to be sworn in as Chief Minister on the same morning.

“Assembly elections were held on 04.02.2017 and the results were declared on 11.03.2017. The BJP was voted out by the electorate exercising their democratic right to vote in favour of the Indian National Congress (INC) as the single largest party in the State Legislature. It was imperative and incumbent for the Governor to have called the INC and ask its leader to prove its majority on the Floor of the House,” the petition said.

‘Shocking attempt’

Instead, the petition, filed by advocate Devadatt Kamat and settled by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, submitted that political manoeuvring by the Centre using the Governor’s constitutional office between March 11 and 12 shows a “shocking and a brazen attempt to grab power violating the sacrosanct constitutional norms, conventions and principles guiding the discretionary powers of the Governor in a hung House”.

“The respondents [Union of India and the State of Goa] virtually sought to strangulate the will of the people and have used the office of the Governor to suit their political needs... the Governor of Goa could not have ignored the single largest party (INC) with 17 seats and invited the BJP, which is a smaller party with 13 seats, to form the government,” the petition said.

The total strength of the Assembly is 40 seats.

The petition said the Supreme Court as the “sentinel” of constitutional norms and values should intervene and strike down the decisions taken by a Governor in her discretionary capacity if they were found to be arbitrary.

The petition contended that the BJP had no pre-poll alliance with any of the other parties which now tow their line.

It was the central BJP leadership which used its political clout to rope in the smaller parties and Independents in Goa to cobble together the requisite majority in the State.

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