New Delhi: A governor should not enter into any area which precipitates the fall of a government, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud observed Wednesday, while hearing ongoing arguments on the constitutional issues arising out of the split in the Shiv Sena.
The top judge’s comments come at a time when Opposition parties have stridently highlighted several instances of gubernatorial overreach.
In the top court Wednesday, advocate for the Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray’s faction, Kapil Sibal questioned how the Maharashtra governor could select a whip in the Assembly, when that fell under the purview of a political party.
“From the beginning to the end, the whole process is purely political,” Sibal said, hinting that the rift in the Sena, which led to the fall of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, was engineered.
Former chief minister and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray had stitched together the MVA with constituents Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in 2019, and ruled Maharashtra for nearly three years.
In the middle of last year, a large chunk of Sena legislators walked out under Eknath Shinde’s leadership, and formed a new government with the BJP. Shinde was appointed chief minister.
Sibal asked in court how the governor (Bhagat Singh Koshyari) could call Eknath Shinde (to prove majority). “Who is Eknath Shinde? I’m talking in constitutional terms. Argument is that Shinde is the group leader. Under which law?” he asked, stating that the party whip had to be obeyed.
Sibal added: “The governor under A 168 of the Constitution is not the member of the legislative assembly but he’s part of the legislature. He can’t recognise anyone other than a political party.”
Sibal’s argument was on whether the governor had issued a letter to Eknath Shinde, inviting him to form the present Maharashtra government with support from the BJP.
Justice Chandrachud observed before this argument, “You can never allow the governor to ask for a trust vote when there is absolutely nothing to shake the majority of the floor of the house.”
He said the governor must be conscious of the fact that his calling for a trust vote may itself be a circumstance which may lead to the toppling of a government.
“Governor may actually precipitate the falling of a government. That is very very serious for our democracy,” he observed.
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