NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday posed tough questions to Uddhav Thackeray who led the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra by asking him how it can reinstate him as Chief Minister of the state as he had resigned without facing the floor test following a banner of revolt raised by his party MLAs under the leadership of Eknath Shinde.
The top court concluded its proceedings after nine-days hearing in connection with the Maharashtra political crisis.
Before reserving the judgement, a five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha put the questions to senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for the Thackeray group.
On June 29, 2022, the top court had refused to stay the Governor’s direction to Thackeray to take floor test. Sensing defeat, he preferred to resign, paving the way for Shiv Sena-BJP alliance led by Shinde to come to power in Maharashtra.
"So, really the question is whether there was a valid exercise of power by the Governor to call for a trust vote? And what happens, if we come to a conclusion that there was no valid exercise of power by the Governor to call for a trust vote,” the bench asked Singhvi.
To this, Singhvi said everything falls.
However, the bench retorted by saying to say that everything falls on would be simple.
Singhvi further said that is the core question and he should be allowed him to present his case.
“Then, according to you what, we reinstate the Uddhav Thackeray government? But you resigned,” the bench asked the counsel.
Singhvi then responded by saying Thackeray’s resignation and not facing the trust vote is irrelevant.
"That is, the court is being told to reinstate a government,” the bench asked.
Singhvi said that it is a plausible way of looking at it but it is irrelevant, and again asked the bench to give him an opportunity to explain his contention.
At this, the bench again asked him, “How can the court reinstate a Chief Minister who did not even face floor test?”
Singhvi said the court is not reinstating anyone but it is restoring the status quo ante.
“But, it would have been a logical thing to do provided you had lost the trust vote on the floor of the assembly. Clearly, then you would have been ousted from power due to a trust vote, which is set aside….look at the intellectual conundrum that it is not that you have been ousted from power as a result of a trust vote which was wrongly summoned by the Governor. You chose not to, whatever reason you did not face the trust vote," the bench again said.
The bench further asked Singhvi, “So you're saying that Mr Uddhav Thackeray resigned only because he was called upon by the governor to face a trust vote?"
“I'm grateful. After I filed the petition, after I made it sub judice, and after I said it's completely unknown to law and don't allow it to go on," Singhvi said.
The Chief Justice asked Singhvi, “You're frankly accepting the fact that you resigned because the trust vote was going to go against you”.
Singhvi replied that is an illegal act and consequences of it were known to his client.
Besides Singhvi, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, and Devadatt Kamat and advocate Amit Anand Tiwari appeared for the Thackeray group.
Shinde'a side was represented by senior advocates Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Harish Salve, Mahesh Jethmalani and advocate Abhikalp Pratap Singh.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the office of the governor in the matter. The hearing in the matter commenced on February 21.