New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday shot a volley of tough questions at Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Maharashtra Governor, while hearing pleas in connection with the political crisis triggered due to rebellion in Shiv Sena. The court said the Governor should not enter into any area which precipitates the fall of a government, while questioning his call for a trust vote.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud asked Mehta, “can the governor call for the trust vote? Then you’re virtually breaking the party”.
The Chief Justice added that looking at it in hindsight, the then Shiv Sena headed by Uddhav Thackeray had lost the mathematical equation and they were not willing to disqualify the 39 rebel MLAs belonging to the Eknath Shinde group, as it would be to their disadvantage.
He told Mehta that the governor should not enter into any area which precipitates the fall of a government, and emphasized that in the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the rebel MLAs broke bread for three years with the Congress and NCP. The bench queried, “what happened overnight after three years of happy marriage?” Mehta replied that he cannot answer this, as that is a political debate.
Mehta said the governor’s primary responsibility is that a stable government continues and a democratically elected leader should continue to enjoy the confidence of the House throughout the tenure of the government. Otherwise, there would be no accountability of the leader, he added.
During the hearing, the bench — also comprising Justices M.R. Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P.S. Narasimha — orally observed that this is a very sad spectacle in our democracy and this is irrespective of the morality of Shiv Sena joining the alliance with the Congress and NCP.
The Chief Justice said the governor has to ask himself this question, “what were you fellas doing for three years?” He pointed out that if this situation were to occur a month after the election, then it would be different, but they were together for three years and suddenly one fine day a group of 34 MLAs say there is discontent.
The Chief Justice orally observed that the governor must be conscious of the fact that his calling for a trust vote may lead to a situation, which could result in toppling of a government.
Citing differences on policy issues cited by the rebel MLAs, the Chief Justice asked Mehta, can the governor merely say that you must prove your strength in the trust vote? Governor may actually precipitate the falling of the government.
Mehta pointed out the leader of opposition’s communication to the governor and also the threats which were issued to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.
The bench pointed out that the governor had three things before him: one, the resolution by 34 MLAs saying that leadership would be with Eknath Shinde; two, the letter by MLAs about threats and; third the letter by the leader of the opposition.
The Chief Justice said the leader of the opposition will always write to the governor and the threat to security is not a ground for calling for a trust vote.
Mehta emphasized that the governor’s responsibility is to ensure that a stable government is in place. The bench replied that a government was functioning then and they can vote the leader out by saying that the leader is not holding ethos of the party, but can the governor say that I will ask them to prove it now? Mehta said, “please do not condone it (threats)…”
The bench clarified that it is not condoning the threats which were issued to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and in politics, sometimes things are said which are inappropriate and they should never be said and added that the court has expressed serious concerns about it.
The bench said in the monsoon session, if they have to seek votes of the House, and if the government doesn’t get the vote then they would be out.
The arguments in the matter will continue in the after session.
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