Governor Can Direct Floor Test Even While House Is In Session : SC Approves MP Governor's Decision

The Supreme Court on Monday, in a big relief to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his government in Madhya Pradesh, held that a state governor was well within their rights to ask for a floor test during an assembly session. The decision comes as retaliation to Singh's predecessor Kamal Nath whose government lost the majority after more than 20 Congressmen resigned from the assembly.

Court claims that governors are well within their rights to call for a floor test during an assembly session and denies Congress' argument that governor has limited power in running of the assembly.

The top court rejected Nath's and the congress party's assertion that the governor has limited powers, restricted to summoning, proroguing, and dissolving the house, and that it is the Speaker's duty to control the assembly's functioning.

In a thorough 68-page judgment on Monday, the supreme court bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said there was no hindrance to a governor asking a chief minister to prove majority if he had sufficient reason to believe so. The division bench also added that this power can be exercised by a governor not only when a state legislature is in crisis but also during a sitting assembly. The two judges, however, observed in the order that the court is entitled to decide if the governor did so in calling for the floor test on the basis of "objective material and reasons which were relevant and germane to exercise of the power."

“In fact in this case the Governor was right in ordering floor test. We have not accepted Speaker’s counsel Dr. Singhvi’s argument that governor cannot pass order. Governor is not taking any decision by himself, Governor is just calling a floor test," said Chandrachud.

On the basis of the resignation of six ministers of the incumbent government (accepted by the Speaker), the resignation of sixteen more members of Congress and the refusal of the Chief Minister to hold a floor test given the fact that the House is convened on 16 March 2020, the exercise of the governor's power to convene a floor test cannot be deemed constitutionally improper, the court said.

 

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