SC asks Karnataka's Yeddyurappa govt to prove majority by tomorrow
18 May 2018
Amidst dramatic scenes of the Congress party and the Janata Dal (S) shifting their MLAs en masse to safer places following the swearing-in of the Bhartiya Janatha Party’s BS Yeddyurappa as chief minister, the Supreme Court has ordered the Yeddyurappa government to prove majority in the Karnataka assembly by 4 pm tomorrow.
"Let the House decide and the best course would be floor test," the apex court said.
The floor test will follow the swearing-in of all members of the legislative assembly.
A pro-tem speaker will be appointed by the house, who will conduct the floor test as per the rules of the House. There will also be no secret ballot.
The governor had given BJP chief minister BS Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his government’s majority support in the house.
"Let the House decide and the best course would be floor test," a three-judge bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said.
The CM will not take policy decisions before the floor test, as per the order passed by the bench today.
The bench took note of the letters sent by the CM to the governor staking claim to form the government. Since the largest party had no clear majority, it was evident that it needed support of "others" to form a government.
In such a situation the court thought it better to order an immediate floor test rather than deal with the legality of the governor's decision. The court will deal with this and lay down the law on this later in July.
For now, the court said that it can't compromise on rule of law and refused to grant more time to the CM to prove his majority.
Appearing for the BJP, Former Attorney General for India Mukul Rohatgi had sought reasonable time for the floor test, but the court rejected the demand.
The court also stayed the nomination of an Anglo-Indian member before the floor test.
The court also took an undertaking from Rohatgi that the chief minister Yeddyurappa will not take any policy decisions before the floor test.
Rohtagi sought more time on the ground that the MLAs have to be rounded up and others contacted. He also accused the Congress of locking up its MLAs. But the Congress resisted any extension.
The Congress and the JD(s) had approached the court after the governor had asked Yeddyurappa to form the government.
Rohatgi, while explaining the poll results said the mandate in the state was for a change. The ruling party was thrown out, he said, adding that there was an unholy alliance between the Congress and the JD(S).
He said that there was no need for the single largest party in the current atmosphere of fear and apprehension to give out the names of those supporting it.
He also defended the governor’s decision to invite Yeddyurappa saying he was satisfied that he could provide a stable government.
"These claims cannot be verified by the governor. The real place is the floor," the judges quipped
The BJP has 104 members in the 224-member assembly while the JD (S)-Congress combine has the numbers to form a government and hence there was no way that the BJP could have had more than 104 members without falling foul of the anti-defection law.