In a significant development, the Supreme Court has ordered that floor test be held in the Karnataka Assembly at 4 pm on Saturday to ascertain whether newly appointed BJP Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa enjoys majority in the state. “Let the House decide and the best course would be floor test,” a three judge bench headed by Justice AK Sikri said.
BS Yeddyurappa was sworn-in as Chief Minister by Governor Vajubhai Vala after the BJP was invited to form the government given their status as a single largest party with 104 MLAs in a current 222-member house.
The move was strongly opposed by the Congress and JD(S) combined, which had claimed their collective strength of 116 legislators is well above the majority mark of 112.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Chief Minister, had sought reasonable time till Monday for the floor test but the bench, also comprising Justices SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan, ordered it for tomorrow.
The top court has said the protem speaker will take decisions in accordance with the law on the issue of floor test. It also directed the Karnataka government and the Governor not to nominate any MLA from the Anglo-Indian community to participate in the floor test tomorrow.
The bench also asked the newly elected government not to take any major policy decision till it proves majority in the House and ordered authorities including the DGP to ensure law and order outside the Karnataka Assembly.
The bench said ultimately the question is about majority which has to be proved in the floor test. The Supreme Court also turned down Yeddyurappa’s request for a secret ballot during the floor test.
During the hearing which went for more than an hour, Yeddyurappa’s counsel placed before the apex court letters he had sent to Governor Vajubhai Vala in which he had staked claim to form the government in Karnataka.
“The single largest party (BJP) is the mandate of people of Karnataka who have thrown out the ruling party. The ruling party has much less members than us. There was no pre-poll alliance. It (Congress-JD(S)) is an unholy alliance,” Yeddyurappa counsel Rohatgi said.
The bench, however, directed Rohatgi to give the copies of the letters to the counsel appearing for Congress-JD(S) combine.
In a historic pre-dawn hearing on Thursday, a specially constituted three-judge bench after more than three hours of hearing, had made it clear that it was not interfering with the Governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form government in the state but had kept the hearing pending for today.
During the high-voltage hearing, which lasted from 2.11 AM to 5.28 AM, the top court had made it clear that the swearing-in and government formation would be subject to the final outcome of the case.
The court had directed the Centre to place before it two communications sent by Yeddyurappa to the Governor in which he had staked claim to form government, saying their perusal was necessary to decide the case.
(With inputs from PTI)