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SC Orders Floor Test in Goa on March 16, Parrikar to Be Sworn in Today

File photo of Goa CM Manohar Parikar.

File photo of Goa CM Manohar Parikar.

A Supreme Court special bench headed by CJI Khehar has ordered a floor test to be conducted in Goa Assembly at 11 am on March 16 but refused to stay the oath taking of BJP’s Manohar Parrikar as the new chief minister of the state.

New Delhi: A Supreme Court special bench headed by CJI Khehar has ordered a floor test to be conducted in Goa Assembly at 11 am on March 16 but refused to stay the oath taking of BJP’s Manohar Parrikar as the new chief minister of the state.

The order dictated that the floor test formalities be completed by March 15, including the formalities of Election Commission.

"We find that a sensitive issue like this can be solved by directing the floor test at the earliest," said the SC bench.

Earlier, Governor Mridula Sinha had given Parrikar 15 days from his swearing in on Tuesday to prove his majority in the House.

Elections to the 4O-seat Goa Assembly had thrown up a hung house on Saturday with the Congress leading with 17 seats and BJP with 13. But BJP managed to cross the halfway mark with post-poll support from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three Independents and Parrikar was called to form the government.

But Congress state leader Kavlekar moved the SC on Sunday, and despite the courts being closed for Holi, CJI Khehar set up a special bench to hear the plea ahead of Parrikar's swearing-in the next day.

In court, the government was represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh whereas Harish Salve represented Goa Governor Mridula Sinha. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared on behalf of INC.

Singhvi argued that a confidence motion should be ordered ahead of the swearing-in but Salve submitted that the floor test should be held after formation of the new government.

But CJI Khehar declined the Congress request saying, "A floor test cannot be conducted prior to the formation of an assembly."

The court had also asked both parties to name a leader who could be an interim speaker.

The apex court bench was not satisfied with Congress claims that it had a majority in the Goa assembly asking the party why it did not submit a detailed list of candidates offering support.

"If you give the list showing a majority then you have made a case," CJI Khehar told Singhvi adding, "if the governor did not invite you, you could have held a dharma outside the governor's house and said, look I have the numbers."
Initially the court upheld Salve's argument that the governor was right in calling BJP under Article 164 (1) of the Constitution to form the government, saying that in certain situations the governor can take such a call. But while dictating the final order the SC bench said, "In a fluid situation like this, Governor's discretion is tested on the floor of the House and hence Art 164 becomes irrelevant."