The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati, Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Governor Lalji Tandon on a petition filed by senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan and nine other BJP MLAs seeking an immediate floor test.
A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud asked the Speaker and the Chief Minister to respond to the petition within 24 hours and posted it for hearing on Wednesday. “Rationale of the case is that a floor test is required,” Justice Chandrachud noted.
Chouhan, a three-time former chief minister of MP, and others have challenged the MP Assembly Speaker’s decision to adjourn the House till March 26, defying the Governor’s direction for a floor test on March 16.
Interestingly, no lawyer showed up for the Kamal Nath Government even as16 rebel Congress MLAs approached the top court to get their resignations accepted by the Speaker. On behalf of the petitioners, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said, “This case represents a complete travesty of democracy. The other side deliberately did not appear to delay it.”
The Kamal Nath government went into a political crisis after senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and joined the BJP on March 11. Twenty-two Congress MLAs loyal to him tendered resignation making the survival of the Congress government in the state almost impossible.
In the 230-member House, two seats are vacant and the Congress - which had 114 MLAs - has been reduced to minority following resignation of 22 of its MLAs as the effective strength of the House would also come down to 206. The BJP has 107 MLAs.
In their petition, the BJP leaders submitted that on account of lack of confidence and resignation of 22 MLAs of the Congress, out of which the resignation of six MLAs having been already accepted by the Speaker, the Congress government had been reduced to a minority. The petitioners contended that the Kamal Nath government had “no moral, legal, democratic or constitutional right to remain in power even for a single day”.
Citing the nine-judge Constitution Bench verdict in the SR Bommai versus Union of India (1994) case, the petitioners said, “If the support to a government is withdrawn by some legislators and the government appears to have lost the confidence of the House, it is the duty of the Governor to direct the government to prove the majority by floor test.”