While President's rule has been imposed in Maharashtra, many have questioned the decision of the Governor. However, the Governor has strictly played by the rules as listed under Article 356.
The Shiv Sena has moved the Supreme Court stating that it was not given sufficient time to form the government. In its plea it said that the BJP was given 48 hours time as opposed to the 24 hours granted to it.
The fact is that the Shiv Sena had the option to approach the Governor and stake claim to form the government the day the results of the Maharashtra Assembly elections were announced on October 24, 2019. There is no hard and fast rule that the Shiv Sena had to wait for an invitation from the Governor.
The decision by the Governor of Maharashtra to impose President’s Rule has come under question by many. There are allegations that the Governor gave more time to the BJP. The Shiv Sena says in its plea that the decision of the Governor is arbitrary, unconstitutional, unreasonable, capricious and malafide.
If the Governor finds that no party is able to form a stable government, then under Article 356 President’s Rule can be recommended.
What Article 356 states:
“ If the President, on receipt of the report from the Governor of the state or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution, the President may by Proclamation:
a) assume to himself all or any of the functions of the government of the state and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by the Governor or anybody or authority in a state other than the Legislature of the state;
(b) declare that the powers of the Legislature of the state shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament;
(c) make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the President to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provisions of this Constitution relating to anybody or authority in the state provided that nothing in this clause shall authorise the President to assume to himself any of the powers vested in or exercisable by a high court, or to suspend in whole or in part the operation of any provision of this Constitution relating to high courts.
In Maharashtra, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari played strictly by the rules. He first called the BJP, which is the single largest party to form the government. When the BJP expressed its inability to do so, the Shiv Sena was invited and subsequently it was the Shiv Sena.
There is nothing in the Constitution which describes a time limit where such decisions are concerned. The rules clearly state that the objective of the Governor would be to see that there is a viable and stable government.
With regard to the time limit, it is stated that the Governor shall give reasonable time. If after giving reasonable time, the Governor is of the view that no party is able to form a stable or viable government, then the recommendation for President’s Rule shall be made.
Legal experts spoke to MyNation and said that there is no hard and fast rule in the Constitution regarding the process that a Governor needs to follow in such situations. The Governor shall first call the single largest party and if that does not materialise, then the next largest party shall be called.
Further, the experts also say that when it comes to the time factor, there is nothing specified regarding the same. It is entirely up to the Governor to decide on how much time a party can be given to form the government. The only point relating to the time that is mentioned is that it should be reasonable and this is again the discretion of the Governor.
In the event of none of the parties being able to form the government, the Governor can either recommend the imposition of President’s Rule or once again invite the single largest party to form the government. However this is again totally up to the discretion of the Governor.
The rules clearly state that the Governor can take a decision after seeing if the government would be a stable and viable one.
In the case of Maharashtra, the Governor has tried all options available. He has given sufficient opportunity to all parties to form the government and only after he was convinced that there would not be a stable and viable government in place did a decision to make a recommendation under Article 356 was made.
Shiv Sena-NCP had ample time:
The Supreme Court has dealt with this issue in the landmark SR Bommabi vs Union of India case in 1994. However in that case, the issue up for consideration was whether the chief minister and council of ministers can be dismissed, without being accorded an opportunity to test their strength on the floor of the House. The Supreme Court made it clear that no government can be dismissed until provided an opportunity to test its strength on the floor of the house.
The scenario in Maharashtra is however different. None of the parties invited to form the government were able to stake a claim for the want of numbers. While the BJP made it clear that it was not in any position to form the government, the Shiv Sena had sought time.
The Shiv Sena did not have the letters of support from the Congress or NCP as a result of which the Governor was satisfied that the party would not be able to provide a viable and stable government. In the case of the NCP, the Governor found that the party was unable to dish out the numbers to form the government. There was no word from the Congress and Raj Bhavan felt that in such an event a stable government cannot be provided by these parties.
The Raj Bhavan decided to take the decision after it found that no party would be able to form a stable government in Maharashtra. A press communique released by the Raj Bhavan stated, “ Governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, being satisfied that as government of Maharashtra cannot be carried out in accordance with the Constitution, has today submitted a report as contemplated by the Provisions of Article 356 of the Constitution (President’s Rule).”
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Last Updated 7:08 PM IST