Indian Supreme Court refuses to stay swearing in of BJP govt in Karnataka

Indian Supreme Court refuses to stay swearing in of BJP govt in Karnataka

New Delhi May 17 ( The Indian Supreme Court has refused to stay the swearing-in of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJ) government in Karnataka ,the Deccan Herald reported. The swearing-in is to be held in the morning of Thursday ,May 17.

The court was considering a plea by the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) to nullify the Karnataka Governor’s step of asking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in the State and prove its majority in the State Assembly in 15 days’ time.The petition also sought a stay of the swearing-in ceremony.

The court will however continue to hear the Congress-JD (S) petition and hear the BJP’s arguments too.

ln the recent elections to the State Assembly, no party got an simple majority to form the government in the State.But the BJP had emerged as the single  largest party. However, the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) had put together an alliance which has a combined strength of 117, which is more that the number required to form the government.

222 seats were up for grabs in the State Assembly in the recent elections. The BJP got 104, the Congress 78, the JD (S) 37  and others three.

As such, the BJP is the single largest party, and as such, it should be asked to form the government and  secure necessary minimum of 112 supporters in the House. But the Congress and Janata Dal (S) had quickly formed an alliance and with two others and told the Governor that they had 117 members in all, and therefore, they should be asked to form the government. They gave the Governor a petition signed by all the 117 members and offered to parade them before him.

But the Governor, who is a BJP cadre holder, asked the BJP to form the government and show support of 112 members within 15 days.

The Governor’s reasoning was that the single largest party should necessarily be given the first chance to form the government.

After this decision, the Governor decided to swear in a BJP government under B.S.Yeddyurappa on the morning of May 17.

But the Congress and JD (S) promptly approached the Supreme Court to get the Governor’s order nullified and the swearing in ceremony stayed.

The Supreme Court agreed to listen to the petitioner after midnight (on May  17).

Justice Bobde first said that the court could not interfere with the Governor’s decision and asked the Congress party’s counsel if it was not the norm to ask the single largest party to form the government first. Thirdly he asked if  stopping the swearing-in ceremony would not create a “constitutional vacuum” in Karnataka.

To this, the Congress’ counsel, Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that there would be no constitutional vacuum as the existing Congress government is the caretaker government. As for the norm about  giving the first chance to the single largest party, Singhvi said that in at least seven cases in the past, the single largest  party had been denied the first chance if other parties had united and presented greater support.

If the single largest had primacy, the Congress would have been asked to form the government in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya in the recent past. But the Governors in these cases had asked the coalitions put together by  the BJP to form the government as they these combinations had shown greater support.

By that token, the Congress-JD (S) alliance with 117 confirmed members should be given preference over the BJP with just 104 members, and still needing at least eight more to get a simple majority.

Singhvi pointed that the BJP would indulge in horsetrading to get the extra numbers ,thus brazenly violating the anti-defection law. The court should not allow this, he pleaded.

The Governor’s counsel who are the counsels of the government of India would also present the case to the court.

(The featured image at the top shows the Indian Supreme Court)