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Shivraj Singh Chauhan v. Speaker M P(2020) - Madhya Pradesh Government Crisis

Achyut kulkarni ,
  02 January 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :

Brief :
The court disposed the writ petitions and affirmed that no hindrance be served upon the leaders while ferrying them back to Madhya Pradesh.
Citation :
Writ Petition (C) No. 449 of 2020
  • Bench: Justices D Y Chandrachud, Ajay Rastogi
  • Appellant: Shivraj Singh Chauhan
  • Respondent: Speaker Madhya Pradesh Legislative

Issues

•    Whether any claim under Article 32 relates to the enforcement of rights under Part III of the Constitution?

•    Also, under the same article, whether there exists such a right conferred on the person/entity asserting it (petitioner) and whether such person/entity has the duty to enforce such a right (respondent)?

•    Does such a claim under Article 32 be entertained by the Supreme Court?

Facts

•    Elections for Legislative Assembly were held in the State of Madhya Pradesh were held on 28 November 2018. The results were declared and INC, having the support of 121 members, formed the government with Kamal Nath being appointed as the Chief Minister.

•    On March 10 2020, the leaders of the BJP met the Speaker of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly and handed over the resignation letters of 22 Members belonging to the INC. The leaders were then taken away to Bengaluru and the letter adverted to the fact that the resignations of these nineteen Members had not been handed over by the Members themselves but rather by leaders of the BJP.

•    Post these incidents, the INC issued a three-line whip to ensure the presence of all its Members in the forthcoming Budget Session and to vote for and support the government.

•    Addressing the letter, the governor issued a letter that the Government was not in majority and it had become necessary for the Government to gain trust through votes in the house, thereby the governor issued other guidelines to the Government under the powers conferred to him by the Article 174 r/w 175(2) of the Constitution.

•    The Governor requested the Chief Minister to have the floor test carried out on 17 March 2020 and to establish his majority, failing which the Governor would have to assume that the Chief Minister‘s government did not command the support of a majority in the Legislative Assembly. It was at this constitutional impasse that the present writ petitions were instituted before this Court.

Appellant's contentions

•    The counsel appearing here urged under Article 32 the writ petition here needs to be maintained on the grounds to maintain (i) constitutional morality; (ii) constitutional ethos; and (iii) constitutional principles. 

•    It was urged that the anti-defection provisions contained in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution prescribe a 2/3 rd requirement to sustain a valid breakaway or merger. It was urged that twenty-two members owing allegiance to the INC have been highjacked and have been held in captivity in Bengaluru.

Respondent's contentions

•    It was submitted that - Twenty-two Members no longer owing allegiance to the INC resigned on 10 March 2020; the Governor had directed the Chief Minister to conduct a floor test, and the communication by the Governor has been flouted both by the Speaker and by the Chief Minister.

•    It was submitted that the satisfaction of the Governor based on which the communication was addressed to the Chief Minister was based on relevant and germane material.

•    It was submitted that the Governor had acted within the scope of his constitutional authority as delineated in the decisions of this Court in SR Bommai v Union of India.

•    The respondent argued that a petition under Article 32 by a political party was not maintainable and that the reliefs which were sought were not in the nature of a habeas corpus remedy.

Judgement

The court disposed the writ petitions and affirmed that no hindrance be served upon the leaders while ferrying them back to Madhya Pradesh.

Relevant Paragraphs

"These principles have been consistently reiterated in several subsequent decisions of this Court which would be adverted to in the course of the reasons which will follow.

We accordingly issue the following directions:

(i) The session of the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly which has been deferred to 26 March 2020 shall be reconvened on 20 March 2020;

(ii) The meeting to be convened in pursuance of

(i) above shall be confined to a single agenda, namely, whether the government of the incumbent Chief Minister continues to enjoy the confidence of the House;

(iii) Voting on agenda (ii) above shall take place by show of hands (the Governor having clarified by his letter dated 15 March 2020 that there is no provision for recording the division by 'press of button');

(iv) The proceedings before the Legislative Assembly shall be video graphed and, if a provision exists for live telecast of the proceedings, this shall in addition be ensured;

(v) All authorities, including the Legislative Secretary, shall ensure that there is no breach of law and order in the course of the proceedings and that the floor test is conducted in a peaceful manner;

(vi) The floor test in pursuance of the above directions shall be concluded by 5.00 pm on 20 March 2020; and

(vii) The Director General of Police, Karnataka as well as the Director-General of Police, Madhya Pradesh shall ensure that there shall be no restraint or hindrance whatsoever on any of the sixteen MLAs taking recourse to their rights and liberties as citizens. If they or any of them opt to attend the session of the Legislative Assembly,  arrangements for their security shall be provided by all the concerned authorities."

To download the original copy of the judgment, click here

 
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