Madhya Pradesh Speaker NP Prajapati refused to accept Supreme Court’s proposal to interact with the rebel Congress MLAs through video link. Senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for the Speaker, also said that Speaker has the power in deciding whether the government has lost its majority.
“Governor cannot decide whether govt has lost majority or not, it’s the House that decides. Governor has only three powers: To summon, prorogue and dissolve the House,” Singhvi told the bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta on behalf of Prajapati.
“The Governor cannot ask the Speaker that you should do this, you should not do this, it is beyond his power,” said Singhvi.
But the bench said that if the government loses the majority when the Assembly was not in session, then Governor has the power to direct the Speaker to summon the Assembly.
“What happens when the assembly prorogues and the government loses its majority, then the Governor can call the Assembly,” the bench said.
The counsel appearing for Governor Lalji Tandon told the bench that Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath was “sitting aside” in the turn of events and it is the Speaker who is “leading the political battle” in court.
The judges also asked the Speaker whether any inquiry was made on the resignation of the rebel MLAs and what decision has he taken on them.
Singhvi said the day court begins to give time-bound direction to the Speaker, it will be constitutionally problematic.
The bench then asked it can create conditions to ensure that “exercise of volition” of the rebel MLAs is “truly voluntary”.
“We can appoint an observer to Bengaluru or some other place so that the rebel MLAs can connect with the Speaker through video conferencing after which he can decide,” the bench said. But that proposal was refused.
The bench then said that it is not inclined to create a situation by giving two weeks time to the Speaker to decide on the resignations of 16 rebel Congress MLAs from Madhya Pradesh, as this gap period could become a ‘gold mine’ for horse-trading.
The apex court observed the Madhya Pradesh political crisis has become a national problem, not peculiar to Congress. The crisis was triggered by a resignation of 22 MLAs from the ruling Congress. The Speaker has accepted the resignation of only six.
The court is hearing petitions filed by both Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on trust vote. While the BJP claims the Kamal Nath government has lost the majority after resignation of 22 MLAs, and is seeking court direction to hold a trust vote, the Congress has said the decision will be taken by the Speaker.