The Supreme Court on Monday heard the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine’s plea against the governor’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister. Seeking two to three days to reply to the plea against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision, the Centre, however, maintained that the BJP had the support of all 54 NCP MLAs. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Shiv Sena, said the combine has affidavits from 154 Maharashtra MLAs and the BJP should be asked to prove its majority within 24 hours.
In a dramatic turn of events in Maharashtra, President's Rule was lifted on Saturday morning, following which Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in as chief minister and deputy chief minister, respectively, by the governor.
The development came hours after the new alliance of Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress arrived at a consensus that Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will be their chief ministerial candidate.
The Centre told a bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna that the governor had in absolute discretion invited the largest party to form government on November 23.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the top court the Maharashtra governor is not supposed to conduct a roving and fishing inquiry to ascertain which party has the numbers to form government.
The question is, he said, can a party come and seek the court’s intervention to hold a floor test within 24 hours.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Ajit Pawar, told the bench that the governor rightly invited Fadnavis to form government.
Opening his arguments, Sibal, appearing for the Shiv Sena, referred to Uddhav Thackeray being declared the next Maharashtra chief minister at a press conference of the three parties.
“Where was national emergency to revoke President’s rule at 5.27 am and CM being administered oath at 8 am next morning,” Sibal asked.
Sibal referred to the alleged haste by which President’s rule was revoked and a new government was formed in Maharashtra and said it has never been done in history.
“(Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress) Combine has affidavits of 154 Maharashtra MLAs supporting it. If the BJP has numbers, then they should be asked to prove majority within 24 hours,” Sibal said.