Governor's actions causing a government to topple is “very very serious for democracy”, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday, questioning the Maharashtra governor's rationale in calling for a trust vote that led to a political upheaval in the state last year with Eknath Shinde taking over as the chief minister following Uddhav Thackeray's resignation.
Governors must utilize their authority with the “most circumspection,” according to a constitution panel led by Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, and they cannot use their positions to influence a specific outcome.
“The governor has the authority. A governor shouldn't intervene in any situation that might lead to the overthrow of a government. The governor must also be aware that by asking for a trust vote, he or she may be creating the conditions necessary for the overthrow of a government. The court, which also comprised justices MR Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli, and PS Narasimha, said that governors shouldn't use their positions to achieve a certain outcome.
Attorney General Tushar Mehta was grilled by the constitution bench as he attempted to explain the governor's choice to compel Uddhav Thackeray to demonstrate his majority on the House floor in a number of cases stemming from the vertical split in the Shiv Sena last year. On June 29 of last year, hours after the Supreme Court rejected the Maharashtra governor's request to postpone the floor test set for the next day, Thackeray announced his resignation.
The judge questioned if the letter the Shinde camp sent criticizing the party leadership was sufficient justification for calling for a floor test. “May the governor ask for a trust vote if he (the governor) believed there to be any degree of dissension? Then you are essentially ruining the celebration. By using this authority, the governor has the ability to hasten the overthrow of an administration. It said, “This is quite important for our democracy.
The SG, for his part, emphasized that after the letter from 47 MLAs, which included Shinde camp members and several independent MLAs, stating they were withholding support for the administration, the governor was had to ask Thackeray to demonstrate majority.
“A chief minister must have the support of the public at all times, not only when he is sworn in. Mehta said that the letter from the Shinde camp to the governor also underscored the ongoing dangers to the rebels' lives. “If this continues, it will be the death knell for democracy to declare that once sworn in, he does not have to worry about enjoying the majority,” he said.
But, the bench said, “Mr. Mehta, what happens is, people start to leave a government. The governors are then ready allies, advising holding trust votes. You therefore offer this holiness. This is a pretty depressing display of our democracy.
It was emphasized that the 34 Shinde faction MLAs had to be considered as Shiv Sena members and that the governor had no authority to determine whether or not they would be disqualified since that authority belongs only to the Speaker of the House. Since there is nothing on the floor of the house to threaten the majority, you must never let the governor to request a trust vote. The governor's trust vote is held when the majority in the house is threatened rather than to determine whether a person is still a member of a certain party or not, the bench said.
The governor must continue to have before him and evaluate the situation as it was when the government was constituted, it stated, unless some later occurrence changes the legal structure of the government.
The court was certain that the Thackeray side had lost the numbers game and was now in the minority, but it also stressed that it was worried that the governor's actions shouldn't hasten the downfall of a government.
In response to the MLAs of the rebel group complaining about threats against them and their families, the bench said that this was fundamentally a law-and-order scenario and that it could not result in the overthrow of an existing administration.
All this exaggeration is about Maharashtra. It is a state with a fairly advanced culture. In politics, things are said, after all. There are instances when improper things are spoken that should never be expressed. Unfortunately, the quality of political conversation is declining in our nation. We strongly disapprove of it and are profoundly concerned about it, but we are also worried about the governor's involvement, the bench said.
The bench said that the passage of measures would have been the “surest test” of the Thackeray-led government's majority in the House during the next monsoon session of the legislature. “They are out because one part of the revenue proposal falls short of the majority. We are concerned with the integrity of the democratic process, but ultimately, whomever succeeds or fails is fundamentally different,” said the court, adding that the governor should have taken into consideration the fact that the Shinde group had been a member of the administration for three years.
When the arguments from both parties are anticipated to be finished on Thursday, the bench will continue hearing the case.
The Shinde and Thackeray factions have filed a number of petitions with the constitution bench regarding the disqualification of the MLAs from both camps, the election of Rahul Narwekar as the new Speaker, the recognition of a new party whip for the Shiv Sena, and the governor's order to Thackeray to demonstrate majority on the floor of the House before inviting Shinde to form the new government in the state.
The Thackeray camp also petitioned the Supreme Court later, disputing the governor's instructions to the former chief minister to demonstrate the majority on the House floor and invite Shinde to form the government in the state. The first two petitions in the Supreme Court were filed by the Shinde faction to prevent the deputy speaker (there was no speaker at the time) from disqualifying them as MLAs. The Narwekar camp also opposed Narwekar's recognition of Shinde as Shiv Sena's leader and the choice of a new chief whip for the party.