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2-min read

SC Orders Floor Test in Maharashtra Tomorrow to 'Ward Off' Horse-Trading; to be Telecast Live & No Secret Ballot

Issuing the interim directives on the petition filed jointly by Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP, the bench said the Protem Speaker shall administer the oath of office to all the members of the House by 5pm on Wednesday.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:November 26, 2019, 3:21 PM IST
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SC Orders Floor Test in Maharashtra Tomorrow to 'Ward Off' Horse-Trading; to be Telecast Live & No Secret Ballot
Representative image.

New Delhi: Describing immediate floor test as the most effective tool to ward off horse-trading, the Supreme Court ordered a floor test on Wednesday in the Maharashtra assembly through open voting.

A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said it is imperative for Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to prove majority on the floor of the House before he continues.

"In a situation wherein, if the floor-test is delayed, there is a possibility of horse trading, it becomes incumbent upon the Court to act to protect democratic values. An immediate floor-test, in such a case, might be the most effective mechanism to do so," said the bench also including Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna.

Issuing the interim directives on the petition filed jointly by Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP, the bench said the Protem Speaker shall administer the oath of office to all the members of the House by 5pm on Wednesday.

"Immediately thereafter, the Protem Speaker shall conduct the floor-test in order to ascertain whether the Respondent No. 3 (Fadnavis) has the majority, and these proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with law,” ordered the bench.

It added: “The floor-test will not be conducted by secret ballot. The proceedings have to be live telecast, and appropriate arrangements are to be made to ensure the same."

The bench also rejected a submission made by Fadnavis’ lawyer Mukul Rohatgi that court should not interfere in the business of the legislative assembly, noting there have been not just precedents but also the provision itself carves out exceptional circumstances where judicial scrutiny is allowed.

"We may note that in the present case, oath has not been administered to the elected members even though a month has elapsed since the declaration of election results. In such emergent facts and circumstances, to curtail unlawful practices such as horse trading, to avoid uncertainty and to effectuate smooth running of democracy by ensuring a stable Government, we are of the considered opinion that it is necessary to pass certain interim directions in this case," maintained the top court while ordering the floor-test.

For various other legal and constitutional issues relating to boundaries between the jurisdiction of courts and parliamentary independence, the bench said it will hear the matter after eight weeks once all the parties have filed their replies.

The court was unequivocal that while the larger questions of law can be decided later, an imminent floor-test was the need of the hour.

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