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Karnataka Floor Test: When SC Intervention Made Jagdambika Pal 'One-Day' Wonder in 1997

Interesting political events formed the mainstay of the 1997 state elections in Uttar Pradesh when a popular Congress party leader, now an elected representative to Parliament on BJP ticket, Jagdambika Pal, served as CM for a day.

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Updated:May 19, 2018, 8:34 AM IST
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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to prove its majority at 4pm on Saturday after Supreme Court ordered the BS Yeddyurappa government to conduct a floor test in the Assembly. BJP MLA KG Bopaiah has appointed pro tem speaker to oversee the floor test, but the Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress have challenged the appointment in the Supreme Court, which is set to hear the matter at 10:30am.

As the state heads to a floor test, here is a look at other state elections that have landed in court before:

Uttar Pradesh, 1997

Interesting political events formed the mainstay of the 1997 state elections in Uttar Pradesh when a popular Congress party leader, now an elected representative to Parliament on BJP ticket, Jagdambika Pal, served as CM for a day.

Pal is now famously remembered as “one-day” wonder of Uttar Pradesh politics for becoming controversial CM in a high-political drama. When the then UP Governor Romesh Bhandari had made him the CM, the victim of the drama then was BJP's Kalyan Singh.

During 21-22 February of 1998, Governor Bhandari proposed to implement President's rule in the state as the Assembly witnessed bloody scenes during confidence motion on the floor. Nevertheless, the Centre rejected the proposal.

Joyous over the decision, BJP's CM candidate Kalyan Singh appointed a 93-member cabinet that also included elected representatives from other parties. The other political parties, miffed of this move, tried to destabilise the government.

Singh was in for a shock when Bhandari declined to recognise the outsiders in his cabinet and dissolved the government overnight. This provided chance to Pal to constitute his government. However, the government couldn't run for more than a day.

Jharkhand, 2005

The Supreme Court had on March 9, 2005 directed the Pro tem Speaker of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly to conduct a floor test to ascertain who enjoyed the majority — the Chief Minister, Shibu Soren, appointed by the Governor or the former CM Arjun Munda.

A three-Judge bench, comprising the Chief Justice RC Lahoti, Justice YK Sabharwal and Justice DM Dharmadhikari, held that the petitioner, Arjun Munda, had made out a strong prima facie case for grant of interim relief.

The bench also restrained Governor Syed Sibtey Razi from nominating an Anglo-Indian member to the Assembly, saying this could wait till a legitimate government took over after the floor test. It said that only the duly elected members of the House would participate in the floor test.

Uttarakhand, 2016

Dealing a major blow to Modi government, the Uttarakhand High Court had quashed the imposition of President’s rule in the state on May 21, 2016 which had revived the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat, who has been asked to prove his majority on April 29.

Coming down heavily on the Centre for the March 27 proclamation under Art 356, a division bench of the HC headed by Chief Justice K M Joseph had said that the imposition of the President’s rule was contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court.

Allowing ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s petition challenging the Presidential proclamation, the bench, also comprising Justice V K Bist, observed that the material considered for imposing President’s rule “has been found wanting”.

The issue came to the division bench of the court after a single judge ordered a floor test on March 28 following controversy over the passage of Appropriation Bill on March 18 with the BJP and dissident Congress MLAs claiming the money Bill had fallen and the government has lost its majority.

A day before the floor test was to have been held the Centre imposed President’s Rule on March 27 citing breakdown of Constitutional machinery.

Harish Rawat approached the division bench challenging the imposition of the President’s Rule.

Goa, 2017

State elections in Goa had unfolded in a similar manner in 2017. Governor Mridula Sinha had invited BJP leader Manohar Parrikar to form the government, even though the Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the elections.

BJP had won 13 of the 40 seats. The Congress had bagged 17 seats.

Goa Congress Legislature Party leader Chandrakant Kavlekar moved the Supreme Court on March 13, 2017, challenging the Governor’s decision to invite Parrikar to form the government. A Bench of the then Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R K Agrawal, while rejecting the Congress’s objection, ordered a floor test, saying that the “instant sensitive and contentious issue… can be resolved by a simple direction, requiring the holding of a floor test at the earliest”.

Appearing for Kavlekar, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Governor could not have arrived at her satisfaction on whom to call for forming the government without talking to the leader of the single largest party. Singhvi contended that since there was no pre-poll alliance, the Governor should have first asked the single largest party if it was in a position to form the government.

The court, however, ruled that in such a situation, the Governor had discretionary powers and that the Congress had not demonstrated its numbers before the Governor.

Tamil Nadu, 2017

The Madras High Court had 20 September 2017 extended its stay on conducting a floor test in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly until further orders and also restrained authorities from conducting by-elections to 18 constituencies, which were declared vacant, pursuant to the disqualification of dissident AIADMK MLAs. Counsel for Governor, Chief Minister and the petitioners consented to it as well.

Justice M. Duraiswamy passed the common interim order on a batch of writ petitions filed by the 18 affected persons challenging the Speaker’s decision and another writ petition filed by DMK working president M.K. Stalin seeking a direction for a floor test at the earliest.

Referring to an interim order passed on Friday, in Mr. Stalin’s case, staying a floor test till Wednesday, the judge said the authorities concerned “shall not conduct floor test for the trust vote until further orders of this court.”

Earlier, when the judge wanted to know whether such an order could be passed without the Election Commission being a party before the court and especially when the Assembly Secretary had declared all the 18 seats vacant, Mr. Sundaram replied in the affirmative.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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