Supreme Court provides roadmap for floor test in Karnataka

May 18, 2018, 20:11 IST | mid-day online correspondent

In its order, the apex court enumerated the four steps that have to be followed for holding the floor test, directing the immediate appointment of the Pro-tem Speaker, holding the oath ceremony for all elected members on Saturday

The Supreme Court on Friday gave clear-cut four-step instructions for holding the floor test in the Karnataka assembly for saturday for ascertaining the majority or otherwise of the B S Yedyurappa's government in the state.

In its order, the apex court enumerated the four steps that have to be followed for holding the floor test, directing the immediate appointment of the Pro-tem Speaker, holding the oath ceremony for all elected members on Saturday. This exercise has to be completed before 4 PM when the floor test will be held to ascertain the majority.

A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan ordered that adequate and sufficient security arrangements shall be made and Director General of Police, Karnataka, will himself supervise all arrangements so that there is no lapse on this count whatsoever.

The bench also noted the statement by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the chief minister, that since the floor test would be held tomorrow at 4 PM, Yeddyurappa shall not take any policy decision till it is concluded. It recorded that in compliance with the May 17 order, Rohatgi has produced the copies of May 15 and 16 letters which were addressed by Yeddyurappa to the Governor of Karnataka.

The bench noted that in the May 16 letter, it is claimed that Yeddyurappa's party was the single largest party which also had the support of others and the requisite majority. On that basis, the request was made to the Governor to invite him to form the Government, it noted.

The court also took on record the submissions of senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Congress-JD(S) combine, that the Governor could not have invited Yeddyurappa to form a government on the basis of such letters.

Their contentions were refuted by Rohatgi, the order noted, adding that "In a matter like this, detailed hearing is required in order to decide as to whether action of the Governor in inviting Yeddyurappa to form the Government was valid in law or not."

"Since it may consume substantial time and the final decision cannot be given immediately, we deem it proper that floor test to ascertain the majority of one or the other group is conducted immediately and without any delay," the order said.

The order also took on record the May 16 letter of the Governor inviting Yeddyurappa to form a government by giving him 15 days to prove majority on the floor of the House.

However, the bench said "having regard to all the circumstances of this case, we are of the view that such a floor test be conducted tomorrow itself, that is on May 19, 2018."

Before concluding, the bench granted six weeks' time to the BJP and its leaders to file a counter affidavit and, thereafter, the petitioners on behalf of Congress-JD(S) combine will file rejoinder affidavit in four weeks.

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