The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the swearing in of Manohar Parrikar as Goa’s chief minister but also asked him to prove his strength on Thursday.
The top court’s order came on an urgent plea by the Congress, which emerged as the single largest party in the coastal state with 17 seats, against the governor’s decision to invite the BJP to form the government.
While the Congress won 17 seats, the BJP claims to have the support of 21 MLAs, the exact number needed to prove majority in the 40-member House.
“The only agenda for the assembly on that day (March 16) will be to hold the floor test,” a bench headed by chief justice JS Khehar said in its order on a petition filed by the Goa Congress legislature party leader Chandrakant Kavlekar.
Kavlekar rushed to the top court on the day of Holi on Tuesday, assailing the governor’s decision to invite Parrikar to form the government.
The governor’s decision has irked the Congress which appeared to have lost out on the numbers in Manipur too despite emerging as the singkle-largest parties in both states.
The BJP has claimed support from its former ally MGP, which has three MLAs, besides three of the Goa Forward Party and two independents.
The assembly also has one NCP legislator and another Independent.
The top court also rebuked the Congress for the delay in filing the petition.
“You should have made him a party when you knew he is going to become the CM. You want an order behind the back of a man and we shall not allow this,” the bench told senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented Kavlekar. Singhvi wanted a composite floor test before oath-taking.
“One doesn’t require a CM for a composite floor test, which should be held in circumstances when no party has a clear majority,” Singhvi said.
But the bench said it cannot take away the governor’s power to appoint a CM and also for because the Congress had failed to show its majority.
“You have not disputed their (BJP’s) support, neither before the governor nor before us. On what ground should we stay the swearing in?” the bench asked.
The court also said the Congress should have reacted earlier and even “stood on dharna to point out the wrongdoing”.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for Parrikar, said the governor had already fixed a 15-day deadline for him to prove his majority.
“If the court desires the floor test can be as soon as possible,” Salve said.
The court, however, took the view that the assembly session should be called immediately. It had initially suggested Wednesday, but later fixed the date for March 16.
“During the hearing we are satisfied that the sensitive and contentious issues can be resolved by a simple direction requiring a flor test at the earliest,” the court ordered.