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.
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.