Other States

Supreme Court tells M.P. govt to respond to Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s plea by March 18

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. File

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. File  

Former M.P. Chief Minister and nine other BJP MLAs had sought a vote of confidence

The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Kamal Nath government time till 10.30 a.m. on March 18 to respond to a petition filed by former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and nine other BJP MLAs seeking a vote of confidence to be held on the floor of the Legislative Assembly against the Congress ruling dispensation in the State.

A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said the “urgency” of the situation demanded a hearing on March 18 itself.

“We will have to issue notice. The appropriate thing would be to issue a short notice and keep it for tomorrow,” Justice Chandrachud orally addressed senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi for Mr. Chouhan and nine other MLAs.

“Issue notice in view of the urgency of the situation and notice is returnable at 10.30 am at March 18. Liberty to serve the notice through email,” the Supreme Court ordered.

Also read: Ready for floor test, ball in Speaker’s court: Kamal Nath | Kamal Nath rules out floor test after meeting Governor

 

The court also gave liberty to serve notice to 16 MLAs have also tendered their resignations.

The petition has arraigned the Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Principal Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly, State of Madhya Pradesh through Chief Secretary and the Governor as respondents.

Mr. Chouhan and his fellow BJP legislators, who approached the Supreme Court on March 16, wanted the floor test to be held immediately, possibly within the next 12 hours. They challenged the decision of the Assembly Speaker to adjourn the floor test to March 26. Mr. Chouhan informed the court that “horse-trading is at its peak” now in the State.

“Any deferment of the floor test will further encourage horse-trading and would be in utter violation of the directions issued by the Governor and the law laid down by this court and the spirit and basic structure of the Constitution,” the BJP leaders contended.

The demand for a floor test arose after the recent departure of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the State’s ruling Congress.

The petition said 22 Congress party legislators resigned on account of their dissatisfaction with Mr. Nath’s “non-fulfilment of promises made prior to elections”. They tendered their resignation to the Speaker on March 10.

It is believed that their resignations have reduced the present Congress government’s numbers in the House to a minority.

“Since the government appears to have lost the majority in the House and the Chief Minister had himself expressed willingness to conduct the floor test, the Governor, in exercise of his constitutional powers, by letter dated March 14, directed the Chief Minister to conduct floor test in the House and prove his majority on March 16, when the Budget Session of the Assembly begins,” the petition said.

However, despite the clear-cut directions issued by the Governor to the Chief Minister to seek vote of confidence and prove his majority on the floor of the House on March 16 after the address of the Governor, the confidence vote has not been included in the business of the House for the day.

“The direction of the Governor is, thus, intentionally and wilfully been defied. The Chief Minister and his party leaders have publicly declined to conduct the floor test,” the petition said.

Read: Political vacuum in Congress after Scindia’s exit

The BJP leaders’ petition reiterated that with the “lack of confidence and resignation” of the 22 MLAs, out of which the resignation of six legislators have been accepted by the Speaker, the Kamal Nath government has been reduced to a minority.

“It has no moral, legal, democratic or constitutional right to remain in power even for a single day. All possible attempts are being made by the Chief Minister to convert his minority government into majority by giving all possible threats, allurements to the members of the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha. The horse-trading is at its peak,” the petition said.

Whenever a situation has arisen where the issue of majority of a government in the House, the apex court has always issued directions for immediate conduct of floor test.

Both the Speaker and the Chief Minister have deliberately defied the Governor and violated fundamental rights.

Other than Mr. Chouhan, the other nine petitioners are Gopal Bhargava, Narottam Mishra, Bhupendra Singh, Rameshwar Sharma, Vishnu Khatri, Vishwas Sarang, Sanjay Satyendra Pathak, Krishna Gaur and Suresh Rai.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 6:28:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/supreme-court-tells-mp-govt-to-respond-to-shivraj-singh-chouhans-plea-by-march-18/article31089248.ece

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