SC asks Centre for letters

Updated: Nov 25, 2019, 08:01 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

The SC has asked two letters to be placed on record: One by the governor inviting Fadnavis to form the government, as well as the communication of the BJP leader staking his claim

This picture has been used for representational purpose only
This picture has been used for representational purpose only

A Supreme court bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna assembled on Sunday morning for an urgent hearing on the political crisis in Maharashtra.

Following the swearing in of Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister of Maharashtra and that of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar as his deputy, the prospective ally parties of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, which were trying to form the government in Maharashtra, had approached the court accusing Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari of partisanship and making a "mockery of the high office of the governor." The SC has asked two letters to be placed on record: One by the governor inviting Fadnavis to form the government, as well as the communication of the BJP leader staking his claim.

Governor's decision challenged
In their petition, the three parties challenged the governor's decision to invite Fadnavis and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a "minority government" and prayed for the court to quash the order, declaring it illegal and arbitrary. At the same time, the petitioners also sought a direction from the court for the governor to invite the alliance—which has the support of more than 144 MLAs—to form the government in Maharashtra.

Reports said the hearing in a packed court room kicked off on a funny note when former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the BJP MLAs and some Independents, questioned how someone could approach the court and pray for it to "direct the governor…" He elaborated that the governor is immune under Article 361 and that his decision of inviting the BJP to form the government in the state cannot be subject to a judicial review. To this, Justice Ramana replied, "Mr Rohatgi, in this court, the sky is the limit for asking for prayers," evoking laughter from the gallery. "Suppose the house passes orders that the Supreme Court must dispose all cases within two years," Rohatgi said, once again evoking laughter.

Letters placed on record
After listening to the arguments of Rohatgi and advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi who are representing the alliance parties, and who demanded that Fadnavis take a floor test of strength in the Maharashtra Assembly within the next 24 hours, the SC asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place on record two letters: One by the governor inviting Fadnavis to form the government, as well as the communication of the BJP leader staking his claim. A notice has also been issued to Fadnavis, Pawar, state of Maharashtra and the union of India. The court will give orders on Monday at 10.30 am.

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