SC's Big Remark In Sena Case, "Governor Can't Be Oblivious..."

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The recent Supreme Court hearing on the Sena versus Sena case made strong observations on the role of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in the Maharashtra vote that led to the unseating of the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in 2022. The Supreme Court, led by a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, said that a Governor must exercise power cautiously and be aware that calling for a trust vote could bring down the government.

The court made it clear that calling for a trust vote just on the grounds of differences within a ruling party can topple an elected government, and governors must exercise their powers with the greatest circumspection. The judges further added that the Governor should not enter any area that precipitates the fall of a government, as people will start ditching the ruling party and the Governor will end up toppling the ruling party, which would be a sad spectacle for democracy.

The three-year-old Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena-NCP-Congress coalition in Maharashtra lost power after a coup in the Shiv Sena by Eknath Shinde, who formed a new government with the BJP in June 2022. Mr Koshyari had asked for a test of majority, but Mr Thackeray resigned, facing defeat, making way for Mr Shinde to take power. The factions led by Mr Thackeray and Eknath Shinde have since been fighting for recognition as the "real Shiv Sena."

The Supreme Court is currently hearing petitions that question the foundation of the Shinde government, arguing that Mr Shinde and 15 other rebels were disqualified at the time of the trust vote. During the hearing, Chief Justice Chandrachud questioned the basis for a floor test and repeatedly asked what was the Governor's trust vote, where the majority in the house is shaken, as there was nothing to indicate that. The bench also questioned whether differences of opinion among MLAs within a party, on any ground like payment of development funds or deviation from party ethos, could be a sufficient ground for the Governor to call for a floor test. Justice Chandrachud made it clear that discontent in the party by itself would not justify the Governor calling a trust vote.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court has urged the Governor to exercise caution while exercising their power and be mindful of the consequences of calling for a trust vote that can bring down an elected government. The court has also questioned the foundation of the Shinde government and the Governor's role in it, making it clear that the Governor cannot lend his office to effectuate a particular result.