The Supreme Court on Tuesday passed an interim order to conduct a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday after considering the competing claims of the parties. Having heard the parties, the bench of the top court comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Sanjeev Khanna and Ashok Bhushan was of the opinion that since oath-taking of the MLAs has not taken place a floor test should be conducted as soon as possible on November 27, saying the exercise should be completed before 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The court said a pro tem speaker would be appointed and the floor test would not be conducted by secret ballot and the proceedings would be telecast live. The court said the oath to MLAs is to be administered before 5 p.m. on November 27. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance, mentioned before the apex court an application seeking directions to restrain the Devendra Fadnavis government from taking important policy decisions.
The apex court has given eight weeks to the respondents to file a reply. The court said it is necessary to pass an interim order for the floor test to determine the majority in Maharashtra, which is essential to uphold democratic values and the citizens' right to good governance. The court observed that there is a need to respect the separation of jurisdictions of the legislature and courts and the latter's intervention should only be as the last resort. Justice Ramana said, "This is one such case." The court observed MLAs have not been administered an oath, though a month has passed since the declaration of election results in Maharashtra. It said that an interim order for conducting floor test is essential to avoid horse-trading and corrupt methods deployed to gain a majority. Earlier, in an unprecedented hearing on Sunday on the brewing political drama in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court had asked the Solicitor General to produce letters of support, used by Fadnavis in staking claim to form the government, on Monday morning at 10.30 a.m. for passing orders.
The court had said it will decide on taking the call, prayers in the petition of Shiv Sena, Congress, and NCP, on immediate floor test after examining the Governor's order inviting Fadnavis to form the government in the state. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing a few BJP MLAs and two independent MLAs, had submitted before the bench that the petitioners were "sleeping for 19 days", and now they have moved the apex court seeking a floor test to be conducted today itself. "I will bring out all the facts, for this, I need two or three days," Rohtagi had said. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Congress and NCP, had said either the court should order a composite floor test or the BJP should be asked to prove their majority, and that this process is done by Sunday or Monday.
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