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SC reserves order on Sena-NCP-Cong plea for 10:30 am tomorrow

The Supreme Court will give its order on Maharashtra government formation on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said while hearing the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine’s plea against the governor’s decision to swear in Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister.

As uncertainty in the state mounted, the Centre on Monday maintained that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had the support of all 54 NCP MLAs to form a government in Maharashtra and asked the Supreme Court for two to three days to reply to the plea against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision.

Appearing for the Shiv Sena, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that the combine has affidavits from 154 Maharashtra MLAs and the BJP should be asked to prove its majority within 24 hours if it has the numbers.

The Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP has filed a plea against the governor’s decision to swear in BJP leader Fadnavis as chief minister and NCP’s Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister in the early hours of Saturday.

The Centre told a bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna that the governor had in absolute discretion invited the largest party to form the government on November 23.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court that the Maharashtra governor is not supposed to conduct a roving and fishing inquiry to ascertain which party has the numbers to form government.

The question is, he said, can a party come and seek the court’s intervention to hold a floor test within 24 hours.

Tushar Mehta said that the governor was cognizant of the facts and the situation after poll results that had led to President’s rule being invoked in the state.

The Supreme Court court, after perusing Koshyari’s letter inviting Fadnavis, said it has to be decided whether or not the chief minister enjoys majority support on the floor of the House.

The solicitor general explained that the governor had invited the Shiv Sena, BJP and NCP for government formation and President’s Rule was imposed only after they failed.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Ajit Pawar, told the bench that the governor rightly invited Devendra Fadnavis to form government.

Opening his arguments, Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Shiv Sena, referred to Uddhav Thackeray being declared the next Maharashtra chief minister at a press conference of the three parties.

“Where was national emergency to revoke President’s rule at 5.27 am and CM being administered oath at 8 am next morning,” Kapil Sibal asked.

Kapil Sibal referred to the alleged haste by which President’s rule was revoked and a new government was formed in Maharashtra and said it has never been done in history.

“(Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress) Combine has affidavits of 154 Maharashtra MLAs supporting it. If the BJP has numbers, then they should be asked to prove majority within 24 hours,” Kapil Sibal said.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the NCP and the Congress, termed it a “fraud of the worst kind” and asked whether a single NCP MLA told Ajit Pawar that he supported him to go with the BJP.

As the hearing began on Monday morning, Mehta submitted letters of the governor and Devendra Fadnavis as asked by the bench on Sunday.

The Supreme Court said that it is not considering the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress’ combine’s plea that they be invited to form government in Maharashtra.

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