The Supreme Court on Monday said it will pass an order at 10.30 am on Tuesday on the plea filed by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine against the Maharashtra Governor’s decision to swear-in Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.
As uncertainty in the state mounted, the Centre on Monday maintained that the BJP had the support of all 54 NCP MLAs to form a government in Maharashtra and asked the Supreme Court for two to three days to reply to the plea against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision.
Appearing for the Shiv Sena, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the combine has affidavits from 154 Maharashtra MLAs and the BJP should be asked to prove its majority within 24 hours if it has the numbers.
The Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP has filed a plea against the governor’s decision to swear in BJP leader Fadnavis as chief minister and NCP’s Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister in the early hours of Saturday.
The Centre told a bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna that the governor had in absolute discretion invited the largest party to form government on November 23.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the top court the Maharashtra governor is not supposed to conduct a roving and fishing inquiry to ascertain which party has the numbers to form government.
The question is, he said, can a party come and seek the court’s intervention to hold a floor test within 24 hours.
Mehta said the governor was cognizant of the facts and the situation after poll results that had led to President’s rule being invoked in the state.
The apex court, after perusing Koshyari’s letter inviting Fadnavis, said it has to be decided whether or not the chief minister enjoys majority support on the floor of house.
The solicitor general explained that the governor had invited Shiv Sena, BJP and NCP for government formation and President’s rule was imposed only after they failed.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Ajit Pawar, told the bench that the governor rightly invited Fadnavis to form government.
Opening his arguments, Sibal, appearing for the Shiv Sena, referred to Uddhav Thackeray being declared the next Maharashtra chief minister at a press conference of the three parties.
“Where was national emergency to revoke President’s rule at 5.27 am and CM being administered oath at 8 am next morning,” Sibal asked.
Sibal referred to the alleged haste by which President’s rule was revoked and a new government was formed in Maharashtra and said it has never been done in history.
“(Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress) Combine has affidavits of 154 Maharashtra MLAs supporting it. If the BJP has numbers, then they should be asked to prove majority within 24 hours,” Sibal said.
Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the NCP and the Congress, termed it a “fraud of the worst kind” and asked whether a single NCP MLA told Ajit Pawar that he supported him to go with the BJP.
As the hearing began on Monday morning, Mehta submitted letters of the governor and Fadnavis as asked by the bench on Sunday.
The apex court said it is not considering the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress’ combine’s plea that they be invited to form government in Maharashtra.