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Disqualification proceedings have no bearing on the floor test, Shiv Sena rebels to SC

- June 29, 2022

New Delhi, June 29 (BPNS) 

The rebel Shiv Sena MLAs on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the disqualification proceedings against the 16 MLAs have no bearing on the floor test scheduled for Thursday, and emphasised that they represent the Shiv Sena and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena is in a “hopeless minority”.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing the rebel MLAs, submitted before the bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala that the top court, in its judgments, had said the disqualification proceedings against the MLAs have no bearing on the floor test in the House.

“We are the Shiv Sena and we represent the Shiv Sena (not the other minority),” he said, telling the court that there are 39 dissident MLAs, out of which 16 have been served with disqualification notices and emphasising that “the dance of democracy takes place on the floor of the House”.

Kaul said that the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena is “in a hopeless minority within the party itself, forget the House”. He submitted that the best way to prevent horse trading is to conduct the floor test.

At this, Justice Surya Kant queried Kaul: “Is it your argument that there can be a very dangerous move against democratic morality, if the incumbent government were to use the office for disqualification, after learning that it has lost the majority?”

Kaul added that if the floor test is delayed more, then the damage is caused to the Constitution. The bench then queried if the moment the Chief Minister shows reluctance, it prima facie gives the view that he has lost the confidence of the House.

Kaul then cited top court verdict in Shivraj Singh Chouhan (2020), which held a trust vote operates in a distinct field from the issue as to whether MLAs have embarked upon a voluntary act of resignation or have incurred the wrath of the anti-defection law (Tenth Schedule of the Constitution).

He said unless there is evident arbitrariness, a Governor has been held to be perfectly authorised to call for a floor test and that is not subject to aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu, contended that it won’t be proper to have a floor test while tying the Speaker’s hands and urged the court to either allow the Speaker to decide the disqualification proceedings or defer the floor test. The hearing in the matter is in progress.

Prabhu has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Maharashtra Governor’s direction to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take a floor test and prove its majority in the House on Thursday, June 30.