The Supreme Court, in its recent hearing of the Shiv Sena coup case, made pointed comments regarding the responsibilities of a Governor. It emphasised that the exercise of power by a Governor should be done with caution, as calling for a trust vote can potentially lead to the downfall of the government.
The Court particularly scrutinised Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's actions in the Maharashtra vote, which resulted in the removal of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in the previous year.
𝗚𝘂𝘃 𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗲𝘅𝗲𝗿𝗰𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗽𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗶𝗿𝗰𝘂𝗺𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: 𝗦𝗖
Commenting on the governor's role, the SC said: "The Governor must be conscious that calling for a trust vote may lead to the toppling of the government."
"The Governor should not enter any area which precipitates the fall of a government," the Apex Court judges said, further stressing that governors must exercise their powers with the greatest circumspection.
𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗦𝗵𝗶𝘃 𝗦𝗲𝗻𝗮 𝘀𝗽𝗹𝗶𝘁
In June, a coup in the Shiv Sena led by Eknath Shinde resulted in the downfall of the three-year-old Sena-NCP-Congress coalition government in Maharashtra, with Uddhav Thackeray as the leader. Following this, Shinde formed a new government with the BJP.
Following that, the groups headed by Thackeray and Eknath Shinde have been battling for acknowledgement as the "real Shiv Sena".
The Eknath Shinde faction was granted the Shiv Sena name and election symbol by the Election Commission in the previous month. However, Thackeray, who lost control of the party established by his father Bal Thackeray, is still battling the Shinde faction in the Supreme Court. Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the legitimacy of the Shinde government, claiming that Shinde and 15 other rebels were disqualified during the trust vote.
𝗖𝗝𝗜 𝗮𝘀𝗸𝘀 𝘁𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗦𝗚
Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, during the hearing on the matter on Wednesday, said: "They broke bread for three years. They broke bread with (Congress) and NCP for three years. What happened overnight after three years of happy marriage?"
CJI Chandrachud said the governor has to ask himself this question: "What were you fellas doing for three years? If it was one month after the election takes place and they suddenly bypassed the BJP and joined INC, that's different. Three years you cohabit and suddenly one fine day group of 34 say there is discontent. Enjoying the spoils of office and suddenly one day you just..."
The bench repeatedly questioned the counsels regarding the basis on which the floor test was ordered.
𝗠𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘆 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝘀𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗿𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝘃𝗼𝘁𝗲: 𝗖𝗝𝗜
CJI Chandrachud asked: "Governor's trust vote is where the majority in the house is shaken. Where was there anything to indicate that?"
As Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the rebels had lost faith in Uddhav Thackeray, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud stated that mere discontent within a party does not provide sufficient grounds for the governor to call for a vote of confidence. The Chief Justice also pointed out that the governor must acknowledge that dissent was only present in one of the three parties that formed the coalition.
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