The Supreme Court on Monday, November 25, reserved its order on a floor test for Tuesday after the letters of Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the government and of the Chief Minister claiming a majority were presented in the court.
A three-member SC bench, comprising Justice NV Ramana, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, held on Sunday an urgent hearing of a plea filed by Shiv Sena-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party against the Governor's "arbitrary, mala fide actions/decisions" of inviting Fadnavis to form the government.
The three parties were seeking an immediate floor test to avoid horse-trading and "illegal manoeuvres". After the hearing, the apex court had issued notices to Devendra Fadnavis, Ajit Pawar, the Union of India and the State of Maharashtra.
Monday's hearing comes after a month-long political impasse in Maharashtra ended dramatically as Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the CM, backed by the NCP's Ajit Pawar, who was sworn in as the deputy CM. Governor Koshyari had administered the oath at the Raj Bhavan at around 7.30 am. President's Rule, which was imposed in Maharashtra on November 12, was also revoked.
The move came hours after the Sena-Congress-NCP alliance had reached a consensus to install Uddhav Thackeray as the CM. After Ajit Pawar changed sides, NCP chief Sharad Pawar clarified that his nephew's decision to back BJP was his personal choice and not that of the party.
Ajit Pawar was removed as the party's legislature unit head later in the day, saying his move was not in line with the party's policies. The decision was taken at the meeting of the party's legislators, where 49 of its 54 MLAs were present.
Here are the Live updates of today's proceedings:
Letter of strength to Governor
NCP leader Jayant Patil said, "Today morning at 10 am, Shinde ji, Thorat ji, Chavan ji, Vinayak Raut ji, Azmi ji, KC Padvi and I - on behalf of NCP, gave a letter to Governor showing strength of 162 MLAs."
"The current government in Maharashtra has been formed on the basis of false papers and documents," he added.
SC order reserved
"We will pass orders tomorrow at 10.30 AM", said Justice Ramana.
BREAKING | SC to pass order in the plea filed by Congress-Shiv Sena-NCP on Tuesday
SC reserves order in the plea filed by Congress-Shiv Sena-NCP for Tuesday, November 25. No order was passed on Monday.
Mukul Rohatgi makes rejoinder arguments
Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi said that the Governor has given 14 days for a floor test. "Can the Court reduce this to 3 or 4 days, when there is no gross or substantive illegality? Will that not be opposed to Article 212?" he said.
Article 212 states that courts do not need to inquire into proceedings of the Legislature.
Sena-NCP-Congress stakes claim to form govt
Even as the SC hearing in the plea filed by Sena-NCP-Congress is proceeding, the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' on Monday staked its claim to form the government in the state, a party office-bearer was quoted as saying by IANS.
"Delegations of the three parties with their respective leaders at Raj Bhavan to register our claim to form the government in the future as the present government in the state is definitely going to fall," NCP National Spokesperson said.
Singhvi urges for a floor test to be held tomorrow
"When both sides are saying ok to a floor test, why should the Court wait for affidavits with replies?" asked Singhvi.
This is perjury!
Regarding the letter presented by Ajit Pawar, Singhvi said it nowhere says that 54 MLAs support BJP. The letter is about 54 MLAs electing Pawar as legislative party chief.
"This is perjury," said Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Singhvi wishes to not put the perjury allegations on record.
There can be signatures without a covering letter
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing NCP, said: "There was a list of signatures (of 54 NCP MLAs), but did it say that the MLAs were agreeing to support the BJP. There can be signatures without a covering letter."
Kapil Sibal urged court to order immediate floor test
"Let the oldest member be made Protein Speaker. Let Floor test be video recorded," he said.
'Why should they shy away from floor test?'
"Today Ajit Pawar is saying he had the support (of 54 NCP MLAs) but he has been removed from that position from NCP. If they have the majority then why should they shy away from the floor test," asked Kapil Sibal.
Kapil Sibal questions Rohatgi's arguments
"What was the national emergency that President rule was revoked at 5.17 am and swearing-in was at 8 am? President rule was revoked at 5.17 am that means everything happened before 5.17," said Sibal.
"How can they say that there is no prima facie case. The Governor did not even wait for 24 hours after the announcement of Uddhav as CM before swearing-in Fadnavis," he added.
Issue of floor test
"I will file affidavit on the plea. There is no need for interim order in the case," said Mukul Rohatgi on the issue of floor test.
Him and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta oppose the Court issuing any interim order at this stage.
How did we reach here?
Maninder Singh represents Ajit Pawar
Senior Counsel Maninder Singh representing Ajit Pawar said, "My list is correct factually, legally and Constitutionally. I was authorized to extend support."
"I (Ajit Pawar) acted as the Leader of the NCP and there is nothing to the contrary to show that I was not the NCP leader on November 22."
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha adjourned
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned till noon following continued sloganeering by Opposition leaders.
Opposition leaders raise slogans of 'Samvidhan ki hatya bandh karo, bandh karo' during Question Hour in Lok Sabha.
Majority is decided on the floor of the House, says Justice Khanna
"The majority is not decided in the Governor's house but on the floors of the House," said Justice Khanna, countering Mukul Rohatgi's claims.
Governor has absolute discretion in choosing a CM
Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi said that the attack on Governor is completely unfounded. "Governor has absolute discretion in choosing a person. When to hold the floor test is also the discretion of the governor," he said.
Tushar Mehta takes a dig at Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP
"Can one party say that 'we have somehow managed the flock together and if the floor test doesn't take place in 24 hours, they'll go away?'" he said.
Governor acted reasonably, says Mukul Rohatgi
"Governor acted reasonably because he acted on the material placed before him," said Mukul Rohatgi, adding that the signatures of NCP MLAs were there in the letter.
Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi makes his submission
Rohatgi submits that through the weekend some of the MLAs went with Ajit Pawar and Fadnavis and now these MLAs are extending support to Sharad Pawar, reported Bar and Bench.
Fadnavis didn't have majority initially
Devendra Fadnavis's letter to Governor reads that he did not have a majority initially but formed a majority with Ajit Pawar's support later, read SG Mehta.
SG Tushar Mehta reads out Devendra Fadnavis's letter to Governor
The letter mentions the letter written by Ajit Pawar extending support of 54 NCP MLAs. Based on this material, Fadnavis staked claim to form the government, said Solicitor General Mehta.
Governor is not required to go on a roving inquiry: Tushar Mehta
The Governor) is not required to go on a roving and fishing enquiry, said SC Mehta.
SG Mehta hands over Governor's letter to SC bench
SG hands over to the bench the Governor's letter inviting BJP's Devendra Fadnavis to form Government.
Letter by Ajit Pawar to Governor was also handed over dated November 22. The letter says that all the elected MLAs had elected Ajit Pawar as the head of the NCP.
SG Tushar Mehta seeks time to file reply
"Shiv Sena has 56, NCP 54, INC 44 seats. There were talks about horse-trading but Governor possibly felt that the entire stable is stolen. I am seeking time to file reply as there are questions which need to be discussed," said Solicitor General Mehta.
SG Tushar Mehta begins making his submission
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said: "Before showing the Governor's decision to the Court, I will argue on the case backgrounds," apprising the Court of the series of events that took place before the invitation to form government.
Adjournment notice in Lok Sabha
Congress, Indian Union Muslim League, Trinamool Congress have given Adjournment Motion Notice in Lok Sabha over "sabotage of democracy in Maharashtra".
Communist Party of India (Marxist) has given Adjournment Motion Notice in Lok Sabha over "steps to restore democracy in Maharashtra".
SC bench assembles
The bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising of Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna assembles in the courtroom.
Petition by the NCP-Congress and Shiv Sena against the formation of BJP-led government in Maharashtra
Kapil Sibal (representing Shiv Sena), Abhishek Manu Singhvi (representing Congress-NCP), Mukul Rohatgi (representing Maharashtra BJP) and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta are present in the courtroom at the Supreme Court.
Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress to meet Governor
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress will go to meet Maharashtra Governor on Monday.
"There are four people in 'Operation Kamal'; CBI, ED, Income Tax dept and Police carry out 'Operation Kamal'. But it will not yield any result here. If you have the majority then why do you need an 'Operation Kamal'?" said Raut.
Ajit Pawar should resign, says Nawab Malik
"We have support of 165 MLAs. 53 NCP MLAs are with us. Ajit Pawar has done a mistake, he should resign," said NCP leader Nawab Malik.
"Devendra Fadnavis must realise that he does not have a majority. He should realise that he has made a mistake. If he doesn't resign, we will certainly defeat the government on the floor of the House," he added.
Chhagan Bhujbal goes Maharashtra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar's residence
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal went to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar's residence to talk to him on Monday.
Two out of four missing NCP MLAs return
Two out of the four reported missing Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs returned to Mumbai on Monday and are currently in the Hyatt hotel.
NCP leader Nawab Malik has said that 52 MLAs have come back while one more person is in contact with the party, reported ANI.