Madhya Pradesh: Supreme Court orders floor test in MP assembly tomorrow at 5 PM
On March 18, the SC had declined the proposal of a parade of 16 Congress rebel MLAs infront of the two-judge bench. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has filed the petition seeking immediate floor test of the Kamal government in Madhya Pradesh Assembly.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court is hearing the petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party vice president and former MP Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The petition seeks orders for immediate floor test of the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh assembly.
After former union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia abandoned the Congress party to join the BJP, 22 Congress legislators from his camp had tendered their resignations. But these resignations were handed over to the speaker by BJP leaders. MP assembly speaker NP Prajapati refused to accept these resignations as they were tendered in person.
On March 18, counsels of the BJP and Chouhan, Congress, CM Kamal Nath, Governor Lalji Tandon, Speaker NP Prajapati and rebel legislators had argued for their sides.
The Congress has argued that no floor test should be conducted in the MP assembly before by-polls are held on the seats vacated by the rebel MLAs. Kapil Sibal for Kamal Nath had proposed that the MP CM intends to meet the 16 rebel MLAs staying at Bengaluru's Ramada resort. However, Maninder Singh who is arguing for the rebel MLA had refused to acknowledge that proposal.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi arguing for the speaker had said that the Governor cannot override the powers of the speaker. And the resignations of rebel MLAs need to be tendered in person.
Tushar Mehta and Mukul Rohatgi had defended the role of Governor Tandon in the entire Madhya Pradesh government crisis.
Justices – DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta had declined the suggestion that 16 rebel MLAs should be paraded infront of the bench saying “it would be inappropriate”.
Will trust-vote oust Kamal Nath and the Congress from power?
Conduct trust vote tomorrow at 5 PM: SC
The Supreme Court has fixed the time for the MP assembly floor test. It will be conducted tomorrow at 5 PM.
The SC has also ordered that Director General of Police of Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh should provide security to 16 Congress rebel legislators if they want to be a part of the floor test tomorrow.
The SC orders MP trust vote by show of hands
The two-judge SC bench has ordered that the floor test should be conducted by a show of hands and the entire proceedings should be videographed.
Big blow to Kamal Nath Govt
Justices - DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta have ordered that the floor test in Madhya Pradesh assembly should be conducted tomorrow.
Arguments are over in the Madhya Pradesh floor test case over
As per reports, the arguments by counsels of all sides are over. The two-judge bench will return in a few minutes.
The debate over resignations of rebel MLAs return to the courtroom
The MP assembly speaker's counsel, Abhishek Manu Singhvi reemphasised the need for more time. Singhvi said that the speaker needs two-weeks to decide upon the resignations.
He had argued that "what the Governor has done in Madhya Pradesh is worse than the imposition of Article 356".
Rebel MLAs can't be compelled: Singh
Senior counsel Manindeer Singh stated that whether "to resign or to abstain is our right. We cannot be compelled to do anything”.
Shouldn't disqualify 16 rebel MLAs, argues their counsel
Maninder Singh, who is representing 16 Congress rebels, argued that they shouldn't face the threat of disqualification.
Sword of Tenth schedule (anti-defection law) is hanging over the head of 16 rebel legislators. It cannot be that they face disqualification even as identical resignations of 6 Congress ministers were accepted: Singh submitted infront of the SC bench.
Mukul Rohatgi argued that the Congress was abusing process so that they can get more time to indulge in horse-trading.
As per reports, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta supported the arguments being made by Rohatgi.
Rohatgi claimed that counsel Maninder Singh’s clients have decided that they will not attend the House.
Singh is representing the Congress rebel legislators who are staying in Bengaluru's Ramada resort.
Every minute that Kamal Nath govt is in power is unconstitutional: Rohatgi
The BJP's counsel Rohatgi accused the Kamal Nath government of abusing the processes.
Rohatgi rejected arguments earlier made by Kapil Sibal in regard to the Governor. He argued: Governor is duty-bound. Session or no session. He said that every passing day is important and an invitation to horse-trading.
"Every minute that this (Kamal Nath’s) government is there (in power) is unconstitutional," Rohatgi asserted while arguing infront of the bench.
You don't have numbers either: SC suggests the BJP
Justice Chandrachud told Mukul Rohatgi that they are still short of 5 MLAs.
You still need 5 more, currently you have 107. Suppose these 16 members’ resignation are not accepted, they incur a disqualification: Justice Chandrachud to Rohatgi.#MadhyaPradeshPoliticalCrisis— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) March 19, 2020
Meanwhile, as per reports, Rohatgi argued that the speaker and Congress government are seeking ten days "because they are asserting the issue of resignation which is completely irrelevant in this case".
Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal in combative mode
Senior counsels got into a combative mode while arguing in the Madhya Pradesh floor test case.
Mukul Rohatgi, who is arguing for Chouhan, said: they want to now indulge in horse-trading. To which Sibal responded saying: well, you have traded the entire stable!
Justice DY Chandrachud asked the counsels: Can the Governor fix the agenda of the house?
The MP Gov's role again questioned in the SC
Vivek Tankha, who is representing the state of Madhya Pradesh, argued that Governor Lalji Tandon shouldn't get into "political thicket". He further questioned the role played by Governor Tandon in the MP assembly crisis episode.
Congress has now fielded a battery of counsels
After Kapil Sibal, senior advocate Vivek Tankha is arguing in the floor test case. While Sibal was representing MP CM Kamal Nath, Tankha is arguing for the state of Madhya Pradesh. Senior advocate H Raval is representing the Principal Secretary of MP Vidhan Sabha.
Gov can act only when there is no running session: Sibal claims
Kapil Sibal argued that if the government has lost the majority then there has to be a constitutional mandate to call the House. He asserted that never before the Governor has called for a floor test in a running assembly.
He asked: why not beat me on the floor, why go through the Governor?
Mukul Rohatgi will now argue for the BJP and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Arguments back to trust-vote
Mukul Rohatgi had objected saying that the counsels of CM and the assembly have been speaking since morning and that the other side should be allowed to put their submissions too.
He is representing BJP vice president Chouhan,
How can we compel rebels to meet the CM: SC
Justice DY Chandrachud responding to Kapil Sibal's arguments said that the Supreme Court cannot compel the rebel MLAs to meet the Chief Minister.
As per reports, Sibal in response said, the court could "ensure they could go wherever they want."
Why are we not allowed to meet our MLAs: Sibal
Kapil Sibal questioned: what kind of politics is this where we cannot go to Congress MLAs (in Bengaluru) and meet or talk to them.
Sibal claims Congress rebel MLAs are not being allowed to meet anyone
Senior SC lawyer Kapil Sibal claimed that the Congress rebels MLAs, staying at Ramada resort, are not being allowed to meet anyone.
"They are not allowed to meet anybody, not allowed to go anywhere," he claimed while representing Nath. He further added that these MLAs are crouched in a hotel in a BJP governed state. "Is this the new definition of a free man?" Sibal asked.
Kapil Sibal argued that the apex court has never ordered to conduct a floor test in a running assembly before. He further claimed that 16 Congress rebel MLAs were under captivity as they were flown out in a chartered plane.
As per reports, Justice Chandrachud responded: don’t see ‘chartered flights’ justifies captivity or being free.
Kapil Sibal refers to similar trust-vote cases
Sibal is taking the bench through several similar cases where the bone of contention was the trust-vote.
He referred to Union of India Vs Harish Singh Rawat case and 1998 Jagdambika Pal trust vote case. Sibal said that even in Pal case the trust vote was conducted only when both sides had agreed.
How did the Gov conclude Kamal Nath has lost majority?: Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal, who is arguing for Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath, is making his submissions in the case. He claimed that is a "very unique case".
Sibal contended: if somebody doesn't make a claim, how does the Governor conclude that the Government has lost the majority?
He further added that this is an unprecedented case.
Two-judge bench resumes hearing
Justice DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta have resumed the hearing in the Madhya Pradesh floor test case. The petition was filed by former MP CM Shivraj Singh Chohan seeking immediate floor test of the Kamal Nath government in the MP assembly.
Hearing to resume at 2pm
The two-judge bench has risen for lunch. The post-lunch hearing in the Madhya Pradesh floor test case will resume at 2 in the noon.
You may call it a floor test but it would be a violation of the ethos of Constitution: Singhvi
Senior SC lawyer Singhvi said that ten percent of legislators of MP assembly is missing.
If a floor test is held in this state will it reflect the "Will of the People”?, Singhvi asked. He further argued that the SC can call it a floor test but it would be "violating all ethos of the Constitution?”
Why question the intentions of the MP speaker when other state assemblies are suspended too due to Coronavirus: Singhvi
Representing MP assembly speaker Prajapati, Singhvi pointed out that assemblies of many states such as Kerala, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have been suspended in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak and even the Parliament mulling over the idea.
He argued then how can one dub the MP Speaker's decision to adjourn the House as a perverse decision
Assembly session is always running: Solicitor General
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is representing Governor Lalji Tandon in the Madhya floor test case.
The SG in his arguments claimed: the assembly cannot sleep. It is always running.
However, MP speaker Prajapati's counsel Singhvi and other lawyers expressed their disagreement "with this submission of the SG".
Singhvi reads out Gov Tandon's letter to MP CM Nath
Abhishek Manu Singhvi read out the letter of Governor Tandon written to MP CM Nath on March 14. He pointed questioned the language adopted by the governor in the letter saying that it seems the governor "has already made his mind".
Governor Tandon in his letter to Kamal Nath had said: 22 MLA’s have given their resignation, have received the letter and seen on media - both print and otherwise. The Government has lost majority!”
Gov has only three powers related to the assembly: Singhvi
Senior SC lawyer Singhvi argued that the governor has only three powers in connection with the assembly.
According to reports, he said that the governor can only summon, prorogue (discontinuing the assembly without dissolving), and dissolve the assembly.
Can the Gov call the assembly when Govt is in minority? SC enquires
Justice DY Chandrachud asked whether the Governor can call the assembly when the government is in minority. He further observed that else it would be that a minority government has been allowed to stay in power.
As per reports, Singhvi - who is representing MP speaker NP Prajapati - said that the governor may call the assembly. He added, after the summoning of the assembly, the speaker would take over.
They need more time to engage in horse-trading?: Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Meanwhile, former MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has commented on assembly speaker NP Prajapati seeking two weeks to decide upon the resignations of rebel MLAs.
Chouhan speaking to the media said, "Why do they want more time? For engaging in horse-trading? Now they know that they do not have the numbers."
#MadhyaPradesh BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Speaker sought 2 weeks' time in Court: Why do they want more time? for engaging in horse-trading? Now they know that they do not have the numbers. It's an excuse to get some more transfers done. pic.twitter.com/JyhVp28NNR— ANI (@ANI) March 19, 2020
Pendency before Speaker can't scuttle house on holding floor test: Supreme Court
Supreme Court goes on to say that SC won't interfere with the powers of Speaker but points out that trust vote was not deferred on account of pendency of petitions (resignations) before Speaker. SC says that pendency of petitions cannot scuttle house on holding of floor test/trust vote.
Singhvi brings up Kar'nataka' assembly case
Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi cites the Karnataka Assembly case from 2019, saying it's an identical situation and then the trust vote was directed to be held within a prescribed period of time.
Justice Chandrachud says in that case, the trust vote was to take place a day later and that circumstances cannot be equated.
Don't want to encourage horse trading: Supreme Court
Supreme Court observes that there should be a floor test the soonest. Justice Chandrachud says that they don't want to encourage horse trading. Weeks are goldmines for horse trading.
Resignation vs disqualification debate once again
Justice Chandrachud asked how the decision of the Speaker to accept or not accept the resignation affect the floor test. Then the court was told that in case the resignation is not accepted, the rebel MLAs will be bound by the whip issued.
Senior Advocate AM Singhvi tells the Court in case of disqualification, the persons have to face re-election while resignation does not have this consequence.
Then Singhvi goes on to state that in a running house there can't be any floor tests, only vote of confidence or no confidence.
Lawyer for rebel MLAs agrees with court's suggestion
Supreme Court says that an independent observer to ensure free will of the rebel MLAs is a method to alleviate the apprehension of captivity and coercion.
Maninder Singh for the rebel MLAs says he is agreeable to the Court's suggestion.
SC mulls to have a court-appointed observer
Justice DY Chandrachud asks Senior Counsel AM Singhvi whether the Speaker is willing to decide when the court appoints an observer & have meeting of the rebel MLAs through video-conferencing.
SC bench begins hearing
Senior Supreme Court advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who representing MP assembly speaker Prajapati, argued infront of the two-judge bench that ordering a floor-test would be “short circuit” the office of the assembly speaker.
Singhvi had reiterated the need for the presence of 16 rebel MLAs in the House.