Guv not bound to follow advice of a minority govt for House dissolution

Times of India | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 04:50 am

Guv not bound to follow advice of a minority govt for House dissolution

NEW DELHI: Facing the threat of losing majority in Maharashtra assembly after a rebellion in the ranks, Shiv Sena has indicated that it might recommend the dissolution of the assembly. However, such a recommendation will remain just that; a recommendation. For, Supreme Court judgments mandate the governor in such situations to give chance to a party which stakes claim to form the government. In two landmark judgments - SR Bommai (1994) and Rameshwar Prasad (2006) - the SC had repeatedly said that floor test was the only method to be adopted by the governor to test the majority support enjoyed by a government and that he, sitting in the Raj Bhavan, could not estimate the number of MLAs supporting a party or a coalition, which was staking claim to form the government. In the Rameshwar Prasad case, a five judge bench of the SC had said, "If a political party with the support of other political party or other MLA's stakes claim to form a government and satisfies the governor about its majority to form a stable government, the governor can't refuse formation of government and override the majority claim because of his subjective assessment that the majority was cobbled by illegal and unethical means." "No such power has been vested with the governor. Such a power would be against the democratic principles of majority rule. The governor is not an autocratic political ombudsman. If such a power is vested in the governor and/or the President, the consequences can be horrendous," the SC had said. This means that even if the MVA government, after getting reduced to minority, recommends dissolution of the assembly to opt for fresh elections, the governor has power to discard the recommendation and explore possibility of installing a new government by a party staking claim to majority in the 288-member Maharashtra assembly. In the Bommai judgment, a nine-judge bench of the SC had restricted the discretionary powers of a governor. "Whether the council of ministers has lost the confidence of the House is not a matter to be determined by the governor or for that matter anywhere else except the floor of the House. The principle of democracy underlying our Constitution necessarily means that any such question should be decided on the floor of the House. The House is the place where democracy is in action. It is not for the governor to determine the said question on his own or on his own verification." In Rameshwar Prasad, the SC had said it was not for the governor to decide whether a majority is cobbled through defections or through cross-voting. It had said those MLAs who defy party whip or act in contravention of the provisions of anti-defection law (Tenth Schedule), then the law would take its own course and that it was not for the governor to adjudicate matters under Tenth Schedule.

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