A bunch of public interest litigations (PILs) seeking the dissolution of the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra by challenging the validity of the vote of confidence motion by voice vote were dismissed by the Bombay high court (HC) on Thursday.
One of the petitions, filed by Congress legislator and former minister Mohammed Arif Nasim Khan, contended the government did not have the confidence of the Assembly, as it lacked the support necessary for a simple majority in the house. The BJP has 121 members in the Assembly, which has an effective strength of 287 members.
Khan’s counsel, TR Andhyarujina, argued the government can be formed only by a party which enjoys the confidence of the House. “This [passing the vote of confidence motion by voice vote] is completely contrary to the constitutional provisions,” Andhyarujina had said.
In support of his contentions, the senior counsel pointed out judgments of the Apex Court in three different cases involving governments in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Karnataka, where the Supreme Court had directed to hold a special session of houses and conduct a “floor test” to ascertain the majority of the ruling government.
Advocate general Sunil Manohar argued that the legislative history shows that when it comes to legislative proceedings passing motions by voice vote was the rule and division an exception. Manohar submitted that the makers of the Constitution have kept the legislative proceedings beyond the purview of judicial review deliberately, as there is remedy available within the House. If any member of the House feels the BJP government is in minority, he has a remedy of bringing a motion of no-confidence against the government or against the Speaker, if they feel proper procedure was not followed in the Assembly on November 12.
“We are not persuaded as regards the jurisdiction of this court to entertain the petitions,” said the division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice Anuja Prabhudessai.