New Delhi/Bengaluru: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an immediate floor test for the Kamal Nath-led Madhya Pradesh government to prove its majority, a step that is likely to be taken on Friday.
The floor test was ordered to end the political uncertainty in the state and it would be the only agenda of the legislative assembly, directed the apex court.
The order could potentially cap nearly a fortnight-long political drama the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have accused each other of not playing by the rule book. Madhya Pradesh is one of the largest states ruled by the Congress and the ruling comes just days ahead of crucial Rajya Sabha elections.
A bench comprising of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta directed that the voting be held by 5pm by show of hands. The court ordered the director generals of police in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka to provide security to 16 Congress MLAs, currently lodged in Bengaluru, who want to come to the Assembly to vote.
The court also directed that the proceedings be videographed.
The court order came after two days of arguments on petitions filed by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP and the Madhya Pradesh Congress party on the political crisis caused by the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs.
The BJP leader sought directions for an immediate floor-test, while the Congress party wanted the BJP governments at the Centre and in Karnataka to grant it access to the rebel MLAs who are holed up in a resort in the outskirts of Bengaluru. Senior Advocate A.M. Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for MP assembly speaker and Nath, said directions to conduct a floor-test cannot be given when the Assembly is in session.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Chouhan, replied that the governor is duty-bound to order a floor-test when he has reasons to believe that the government has lost its majority, whether or not the House is in session.
Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Thursday alleged that he was being denied access to the MLAs due to pressure from Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.
Singh met with Praveen Sood, director general and inspector general of Police in Bengaluru, and later said, “The DGP is under tremendous pressure. I charge Mr Yediyurappa that he has pressurized the DGP not to allow me to meet my Congress legislators."