Maharashtra political battle has reached the court, with the Supreme Court, in an uprecedented hearing on Sunday, asking the Centre to place before it today the letters of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inviting Devendra Fadnavis and of the BJP leader staking his claim to form the government in the State. The apex court, however, did not grant any interim relief to the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress combine to direct the Fadnavis government to undertake floor test within 24 hours and rather said that this issue would be dealt with only after perusing the two letters on Monday.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said the plea of post-poll alliance, “Maha Vikas Aghadi”, seeking a direction to the Governor to invite them to form government under the leadership of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray would not be considered at present. The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, issued notices to the Centre, Maharashtra government, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on the plea filed by the combine seeking quashing of the governor’s 23 November order inviting the BJP leader to form government.
“As adjudication of the issues and also the interim prayers sought by the petitioners to conduct floor test within 24 hours has to be considered after perusing the order of the governor as well as the letters submitted by Devendra Fadnavis even though none appeared for the state government, we request Tushar Mehta to produce those two letters by tomorrow morning at 10.30 am when the matter will be taken up, so that appropriate order will be passed,” the bench said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the top court that he is willing to produce the relevant record, if necessary, from the Governor also. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, who appeared for the Shiv Sena, said that the way President’s rule was revoked in the state at 5.17 am was “bizarre” as no cabinet meeting was held and it was not clear as to on what basis the Governor recommended it. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for some BJP MLAs and two independent MLAs, questioned the maintainability of the plea and said they should have approached the Bombay High Court first instead of “disturbing” the Supreme Court on a Sunday. Disturbing the court on a holiday can be accepted if the matter is so urgent, but disturbing democracy is not welcome. The Governor’s decision to call a political formation to form the government is part of his discretionary power under Article 361.