Explained: Governor powers, floor test law under spotlight

The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 03:45 am

Explained: Governor powers, floor test law under spotlight

As the Maharashtra political crisis continues to play out, with the Shiv Sena headed for a split and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray possibly losing majority, the Governor’s powers under the Constitution to call for a floor test takes centrestage.Article 174(2)(b) of the Constitution gives powers to the Governor to dissolve the Assembly on the aid and advice of the cabinet. However, the Governor can apply his mind when the advice comes from a Chief Minister whose majority could be in doubt.In 2020, the Supreme Court, in Shivraj Singh Chouhan & Ors versus Speaker, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly & Ors, upheld the powers of the Speaker to call for a floor test if there is a prima facie view that the government has lost its majority.“The Governor is not denuded of the power to order a floor test where on the basis of the material available to the Governor it becomes evident that the issue as to whether the government commands the confidence of the House requires to be assessed on the basis of a floor test,” a two-judge bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said.Under Article 175(2), the Governor can summon the House and call for a floor test to prove whether the government has the numbers. In a detailed judgment, the Court also explained the scope of the power of the Governor and the law revolving around floor tests.The Madhya Pradesh Governor was faced with a similar situation when MLAs in the Jyotiraditya Scindia camp had defected to the BJP and the then Congress Chief Minister Kamal Nath had asked the Governor to dissolve the Assembly.The Governor instead called for a floor test.When the House is in session, it is the Speaker who can call for a floor test. But when the Assembly is not in session, the Governor’s residuary powers under Article 163 allow him to call for a floor test.In its 2020 ruling, the Supreme Court had also discussed the right of a political party to access “captive” MLAs who were whisked away to a resort. While the Court did not allow such a right, it underlined that the MLAs are entitled to “decide for themselves as to whether they should continue to be Members of the House when they lack faith in the incumbent government in the state.” But that, the Court said, has to be done on the floor of the House.“The spectacle of rival political parties whisking away their political flock to safe destinations does little credit to the state of our democratic politics. It is an unfortunate reflection on the confidence which political parties hold in their own constituents and a reflection of what happens in the real world of politics. Political bargaining, or horse-trading, as we noticed, is now an oft repeated usage in legal precedents,” the Court had said.

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Political crisis casts shadow over appointment of new Mumbai police chief
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 27-06-2022 | 12:45 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 27-06-2022 | 12:45 am

APART FROM its impact on various governance-related issues, the rebellion in the Shiv Sena that could lead to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state will also have a bearing on the impending choice of the Mumbai Police Commissioner. The term of the incumbent Commissioner Sanjay Pandey ends on Thursday and the chances of an extension to him, which has to be given by the central government, are slim in the current circumstances.Sources said that the government, which currently has its hands tied up with the prevailing political situation, may end up giving the additional charge for the post to a serving official if it cannot make up its mind about Pandey’s replacement. A government official said, “While there are frontrunners to the post, the change in the political situation has made the issue all the more complex. Powerful politicians like Eknath Shinde who would have had a say in pushing someone’s name forward will no longer be in contention.” The official added, “In the current climate, where law and order can be an issue especially when the rebel MLAs come to the city in case of a floor test, the MVA government will be all the more careful about whom it wants to give the reins of the police force. In the changed dynamics, they may also go in for giving another officer the additional charge in the meantime.” Sources said that in the past, when the Commissioner had been away, additional charge was given to the senior-most joint commissioner in the city. In the current scenario, Vishwas Nangre Patil, the Joint Commissioner (law & order), and Rajwardhan, Joint Commissioner (traffic), both from the 1997 batch, are the senior-most officers in the city.Prior to the rebellion, Thane Police Commissioner Jai Jeet Singh and Vivek Phansalkar, Director General-Police Housing, were seen as frontrunners for the post of the Mumbai Police Commissioner. Sources said that if the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government remains in power, it is Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar who will weigh in on the choice of the Mumbai Police Commissioner.

Political crisis casts shadow over appointment of new Mumbai police chief
Maharashtra Crisis: What Happened So Far
India | 2 hours ago | 27-06-2022 | 12:05 am
India
2 hours ago | 27-06-2022 | 12:05 am

Mumbai: Maharashtra’s political crisis has further deepened as the rebel MLA Eknath Shinde’s camp on Sunday went to the Supreme Court, filing an appeal against the Shiv Sena’s move to disqualify him and 15 other MLAs. The top court is likely to hear the matter on Monday. Apart from this, the Shinde camp has also challenged the appointment of Ajay Choudhari as the Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader and the rejection of the no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Narahari Zirwal.Also Read - Radisson Blu Guwahati, Rebel Maharashtra MLAs' New Camp, Closes Fresh Bookings Till June 30. Deets InsideMeanwhile, Eknath Shinde tweeted, “How can Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena support people who had a direct connection with the culprits of the Mumbai bomb blast, Dawood Ibrahim, and those responsible for taking the lives of innocent people of Mumbai? That’s why we took such a step, it’s better to die.” Also Read - Maharashtra Crisis: Shinde Camp Moves SC Against Disqualification Notice, Matter Likely to be Heard Today | Key PointsOne to two more MLAs will come and join us. With their support and other independents, our strength will be increased to 51. We will arrive at a decision in 3-4 days and thereafter we will directly go back to Maharashtra, said Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar. Also Read - Say Trek? Not Mountains But Forts! Hike To History This Monsoon And Triumph These Thrilling Fort Treks In MaharashtraMaharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari writes to Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla regarding the security of MLAs (of Shinde Camp) and requested that adequate provision of Central Security forces be made and kept ready, in case required, to address the situation.Aaditya Thackeray said, “On May 20, CM Uddhav Thackeray called Eknath Shinde and asked him to become CM if he wanted to become so, but at that time, he did drama and started weeping. Just a month after, he broke into rebellion. But they (Shinde faction) aren’t capable of doing so, so this isn’t rebellion, this is separatism. They took undue advantage of CM Uddhav Thackeray’s ill-health to do all of this.”Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “40 MLAs in Guwahati are living corpses, their souls are dead. Their bodies will be sent directly to the Assembly for post-mortem when they come back. They know what can happen in the fire that has been lit here.”Maharashtra Minister of Higher & Technical Education Uday Samant reached Guwahati in Assam and joined Eknath Shinde camp.NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, “Eknath Shinde and other MLAs were there with the NCP in the govt. They didn’t have any problems in the last 2.5 years. Why does it happen today only? It’s just an excuse. We will support CM Uddhav Thackeray till the last minute. Eknath Shinde and other MLAs who’ve gone with him to Guwahati have said to form a new alliance, but NCP and Congress policy is clear to support the coalition govt that we had formed. MVA govt is there (in Maharashtra) and we want to continue supporting it.”

Maharashtra Crisis: What Happened So Far
Will Support Uddhav Thackeray Till Last Minute, Says Sharad Pawar
Ndtv | 3 hours ago | 26-06-2022 | 11:10 pm
Ndtv
3 hours ago | 26-06-2022 | 11:10 pm

Sharad Pawar said the new alliance by the rebel MLAs hardly held any importance. (FILE)New Delhi: As uncertainty looms over the future of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government following the rebellion of a majority of Shiv Sena MLAs, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday said that his party will support Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray till the last minute."Eknath Shinde and other MLAs were there with the NCP in the government. They didn't have any problems in the last 2.5 years. Why does it happen today only? It's just an excuse. We will support CM Uddhav Thackeray till the last minute," said Mr Pawar.As the power tussle in the western state continued on Sunday, Sharad Pawar also said that the new alliance by the rebel MLAs hardly held any importance."Eknath Shinde and other MLAs who've gone with him (to Guwahati) have said to form a new alliance but NCP and Congress policy are clear to support the coalition government that we had formed. MVA government is there (in Maharashtra) and we want to continue supporting it," he added.The political turbulence in Maharashtra was triggered by the faction war in Shiv Sena after Minister Eknath Shinde flew to Surat with some MLAs and then to Guwahati where he claims of having the support of 38 MLAs of the party, thus achieving the two-thirds majority in the Shiv Sena.Interestingly, the Shinde faction named their group 'Shiv Sena Balasaheb'.The naming of the group after the name of the Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray attracted sharp reactions from the Uddhav faction as the Chief Minister said that those who left the party should not seek votes in the name of the party founder.Eknath Shinde claims to have the support of 38 MLAs of the 56 Shiv Sena legislators, which is more than two-thirds of the party's strength in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. It means that they can either leave and form another political party or merge with another without being disqualified from the state assembly.Meanwhile, rebel Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar claimed that their faction has a two-thirds majority while denying merger talks with any party.Notably, Eknath Shinde was unanimously elected as the leader of the faction recently which is revolting against the Uddhav faction.The Uddhav Thackeray faction recently submitted a plea before the Maharashtra Assembly deputy speaker to disqualify 12 rebel MLAs.Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant on Sunday informed that the party has initiated legal action against rebel MLAs and notices have been served as well.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Will Support Uddhav Thackeray Till Last Minute, Says Sharad Pawar
The crisis in Maharashtra shows the anti-defection law to be ineffective, even counterproductive
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 26-06-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
3 hours ago | 26-06-2022 | 10:45 pm

The political crisis in Maharashtra has brought focus back on the anti-defection law. By all accounts, the law has failed to shore up the stability of elected governments. Not only have many governments fallen due to defections in recent times, but the defectors have not suffered any cautionary consequences. There are many ways to thwart provisions of the law: the Speaker can sit on the defection pleas for the term of the assembly; the beneficiary party can facilitate accretion of defectors through money and investigative agencies to hit the magic two-thirds threshold. The voters don’t seem to care about punishing the defectors either – 11 out of the 14 defectors who stood for re-election in the 2019 Karnataka bypolls won on the BJP ticket. Some have thus argued that the way forward is to amend the anti-defection law to fill these lacunae by mandating time-bound decisions by the Speaker and disqualifying defectors from standing for the next election as well. These proposed amendments like the original law want to consolidate power without necessarily putting in the requisite politics. They may thus help consolidate the leadership’s intra-party power but the underlying aversion to ongoing politics leaves them vulnerable to bigger external powers.First, it should be obvious that the practice of politics is too wide for any institutional process to fully capture. Politicians are adept at subverting institutional processes for their own ends and there are many possibilities for payoff for defectors outside of elected office alone. Moreover, politics has a rich history of exercise of power by proxy and the disqualified representative may simply choose to have a family member stand in their stead. It thus seems unlikely that these amendments can plug the gap in any substantive manner, especially if the defections have been engineered by the threat of investigative agencies. The anti-defection law and proposed amendments approach the issue of defections from the prism of denying power to the defector, a framing which repeatedly comes up short in the face of a bigger and/or more punitive power. Beleaguered parties may denounce the BJP but in the absence of mobilization of public opinion, these condemnations have at best rhetorical value, moving neither the BJP nor the defectors.Within this framework, if political parties want to resist defections, they must be able to project (imminent) power themselves. At the same time, political parties must address organizational and ideological infirmities which have made them susceptible to mass defections in the first place. There are only about 4000 MLAs in a country with a population of almost 1.4 billion people. However, political parties tasked with representing the aspirations of crores of people are unable to find candidates who take themselves seriously enough to not cross over to political opponents. In fact the bar is so low that the MLAs have to be physically corralled and phones confiscated to ensure alignment with the Party stand. This is not apolitical outrage but has pragmatic organizational value. It is one thing for a few individuals to be susceptible to threats and inducement, another for the organization to be vulnerable to mass defections. Individuals can be faulted in the former but the latter calls for urgent introspective and corrective measures at the level of the leadership.Two measures with both short-term and long-term implications come to mind. First, political parties need ideological clarity and the ability to attract individuals with a sense of purpose and not love for power alone. This ideological depth if reflected in the party organization and its political programs will give members the ability to withstand lean periods of power. Every party has committed individuals; internal party processes must be geared to identify and promote them into leadership positions. This ties into the second issue. Multiple analyses have attributed the political crisis in Maharashtra in part to Shiv Sena’s inability to accommodate the aspirations of its dissident MLAs. The rebel MLAs on their part have spoken of the Chief Minister’s inaccessibility. The MLAs may be opportunistic but there is no question that political parties are failing to create intra-party forums where grievances can be expressed and resolved on an ongoing basis. Internal mechanisms for inner-party democracy – from elections to deliberative forums – are ultimately at the discretion of the party leadership. Scrapping the anti-defection law would provide some institutional leverage to express intra-party dissidence and while it may be more chaotic in the short-term would lead to greater stability and political strength in the long-term.Finally, two fundamental questions. In trying to legislate political affiliation – a key freedom in democracy – political parties are repeatedly giving primacy to legal instead of political battles since these issues inevitably end up in court. This repeated ceding of political power to the judiciary is a serious deviation from the democratic paradigm and must be checked. Second, the anti-defection law has undermined not just the very principle of representation but has also contributed to polarization in our country by making it impossible to construct a majority on any issue outside of party affiliation. Instead of providing stability, the law has undermined our democracy. It is time to scrap the anti-defection law.The writer executive director of the Future of India Foundation

The crisis in Maharashtra shows the anti-defection law to be ineffective, even counterproductive