Sworn in as the new chief minister of Karnataka on Thursday, BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa will have to take floor test to prove his majority in the state assembly at 4 pm today, the Supreme Court directed on Friday.
“It is better to hold floor test on Saturday and not give any time to anyone rather than go into legality of Governor's decision to invite B S Yeddyurappa,” the apex court said yesterday.
A bench of Justices AK Sikri, SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan was listening to a writ petition filed by the Congress and JD(S) regarding Governor Vajubhai Vala's invitation to the BJP to form government in Karnataka.
This brings down the 15-day time-frame given by the Governor to Yeddyurappa to prove majority to just one day.
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Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the chief minister, had sought reasonable time till Monday for the floor test but the SC bench ordered it for Saturday.
The SC also restrained the nomination of any Anglo-Indian member as MLA as it took on record statement by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that there was no move to nominate an Anglo-Indian member in the state assembly.
The election to one seat was countermanded after the death of a candidate. The eelction to Rajarajeswari Nagar constituency was deferred to May 28 after nearly 10,000 electoral photo identity cards (EPIC) were found in a flat in Jalahalli on May 9 and criminal charges were framed against sitting MLA and Congress candidate N Muniratna.
The apex court also directed the Karnataka Director General of Police (DGP) to personally ensure the security of the newly-elected lawmakers.
The top court also junked Attorney General KK Venugopal's suggestion that the floor test be conducted through secret ballot.
As the proceedings began, Mukul Rohatgi handed over two letters stating that Yeddyurappa has been elected as leader of BJP, the single largest party in Karantaka assembly, and that he has the support of required number of MLAs.
Rohatgi added that there was no need for Yeddyurappa to give names of all MLAs to the Governor as he is ready to prove majority on the floor of the House. He revealed that BJP would receive support from few legislators belonging to Congress and JDS a and the letters written by Congress-JD(S) does not show signs of each and every MLA declaring its support to the post-poll alliance.
"I have been informed by several MLAs from other side that they have not given written support to Cong-JDS combine. I don't want to say anything more at this stage," Rohatgi said.
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Countering the claim, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Congress-JD(S) combine, said that they are ready for a floor test on Saturday, without any delay.
Singhvi also demanded video recording of the floor test in the Karnataka Assembly – a request turned down by the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court said it wanted to know on what basis the Governor asks a party to provide a stable government. On this, Rohatgi submitted that at this stage he does not want to say anything more.
The SC also directed the appointment of a Pro-tem Speaker who will administer oath to the legislators, after which the Speaker of the House will be elected – another concern for the BJP as it will require majority support of the House.
In a historic pre-dawn hearing on Thursday, the Supreme Court refused the Congress-JD(S) challenge to the Governor's invite to form the government and cleared the way for BS Yeddyurappa's swearing-in as the chief minister of Karnataka.
Yeddyurappa was on Thursday sworn in as the chief minister after the May 12 elections threw up a hung assembly.
The BJP had won 104 seats in the assembly elections held in 222 segments, falling eight short of the 112 halfway mark. The Congress won 78 seats and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) 37. The Congress later said it would support a JD-S led government.
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100% confident of proving majority, says Yeddyurappa
Following the SC order, Yeddyurappa said that he is confident of winning the trust vote in the state assembly on Saturday. “Will discuss with chief secretary and call for assembly session tomorrow. We are 100 per cent confident that we will prove full majority,” he said while talking to media after the apex court order.
“As per the directions of Supreme Court, we are expected to prove our majority tomorrow. We are sending our file to Karnataka Governor to call an assembly session at 11 am tomorrow. We are going to prove majority,” he added.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar also exuded confidence that the Yeddyurappa Government will win the trust vote in the floor test tomorrow. “BJP is ready and confident of winning trust vote in Karnataka. We will prove our majority on the floor of the House,” he tweeted.
Congress says verdict ‘vindicated its stand’, ‘democracy restored’
Congress President Rahul Gandhi hailed the SC decision and said that it vindicated the party's stand that Governor Vajubhai Vala ‘acted unconstitutionally’.
Rahul said that “BJP’s bluff” has been called out by the apex court and the party will now try to form government through money and muscle.
"Today's Supreme Court order, vindicates our stand that Governor Vala acted unconstitutionally. The BJP's bluff that it will form the government, even without the numbers, has been called out by the court.
"Stopped legally, they will now try money and muscle, to steal the mandate (sic)," Gandhi said in a tweet.
Later, Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said the Constitution has rejected the "unconstitutional" decision of the Karnataka Governor.
"Constitution wins, Democracy restored! BS Yeddyurappa does remain a 1 day CM - Constitution rejects an illegitimate CM as also the unconstitutional decision of Governor of Karnataka (sic)," he said on Twitter.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented the Congress-JD (S) combine in the apex court, termed the Supreme Court's decision "historic", and said, "Interim Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has been restrained from taking policy decisions till tomorrow (Saturday)."