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Governor Can't Enter Political Arena: SC

  • Published
    12th May, 2023
Context

In relation to the Maharashtra political crisis, the Supreme Court held that decision taken by the Governor to call for a floor test based on the rebellion of Eknath Shinde-led faction and to direct then CM Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority on the floor of the House, was wrong.

Background
  • The former Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyati had sought a floor test following a rebellion by a section of Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde in June 2022.

Key-points made by the Supreme Court

  • No solution to resolve disputes: In its judgement, the Supreme Court said the “floor test cannot be used as a medium to resolve internal party disputes or intra party disputes”.
    • The court noted that “dissent and disagreement within a political party must be resolved in accordance with the remedies prescribed under the party constitution, or through any other methods that the party chooses to opt for”.
  • The Supreme Court has now ruled that the Governor's decision was incorrect as it was based on the rebellion of a faction led by Eknath Shinde and not on any material suggesting that Uddhav Thackeray had lost the majority in the assembly.

What is a floor test?

  • A floor test or a “No Confidence Motion” is a legislative measure conducted on the floor of the House to check whether the executive has the majority support in the legislature with the confidence of at least 51% of the members of the House.
  • It is called for when an incumbent government is suspected to have lost the majority in the house.
  • Although the constitution does not demarcate any provision for a political party to be in absolute majority to form the government, the executive i.e., the ministers it is composed of must exercise the legislatures majority.
  • Under the Article 164 of the Indian Constitution, “the council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.”  
  • If the majority is questioned and the incumbent government fails to qualify the trust vote, the executive falls and the concerned ministers are required to resign from their respective positions.
  • A no-confidence motion can be only be passed in the Lower Houses at both state and central hierarchies in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas of states.

Role of Governor

  • Governor can summon members of the Assembly and ask the Government to prove its majority by conducting a floor Test.
  • Article 174 confers on the Governor the power to summon, dissolve or prorogue any House of Legislative Assembly.
  • Article 175 gives the Governor the power to address any House of Legislative Assembly. 

What are the implications of the development?

  • The ruling by the Supreme Court is a significant development in the Maharashtra political crisis, which had led to uncertainty and instability in the state's governance.
  • It is expected to have far-reaching implications for the functioning of democratic institutions in the country.
  • Overall, the decision by the Supreme Court serves as a reminder that constitutional principles and democratic norms must be upheld at all times, even in the midst of political crises and upheavals.
  • It is hoped that the ruling will help to restore public confidence in the functioning of the political system and strengthen the rule of law in the country.
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