The Supreme Court Thursday held the Maharashtra governor was not justified in calling upon then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove majority in the Assembly on June 30 last year but refused to order status quo ante, saying he did not face the floor test and resigned.
In a unanimous verdict on a batch of pleas related to the political crisis that led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Thackeray following a revolt by the Eknath Shinde faction, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud held that House speaker’s decision to appoint Bharat Gogawale of the Shinde faction as the whip of Shiv Sena was “illegal”.
It, however, said since Thackeray had resigned without facing the floor test, the governor was justified in inviting Shinde to form government at the behest of the BJP which was the largest political party in the house.
“The governor was not justified in calling upon Thackeray to prove his majority on the floor of the House because he did not have reasons based on objective material before him to reach the conclusion that Thackeray had lost the confidence of the House,” said the bench which also comprised Justices M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha.
“However, the status quo ante can’t be restored because Thackeray did not face the floor test and tendered his resignation. The governor was, therefore, justified in inviting Shinde to form the government at the behest of the BJP which was the largest political party in the house,” it said.
The top court also referred the 2016 Nabam Rebia verdict by a five-judge constitution bench, which relates to the power of speaker on disqualification of MLAs, to a larger bench of seven judges.