Congress Mp Abhishek Singhvi: Sc Should Set Rules For Guvs In Govt Formation India News
Congress MP and well-known advocate Abhishek Singhvi tells TOI’s Subodh Ghildiyal how the Karnataka issue may impact future calls on government formatio
The Karnataka case is still pending in the Supreme Court. Now that B S Yeddyurappa has stepped down and the Congress-JDS alliance is to form the government, is the case still necessary?
A t our request, the SC has kept the main writ for hearing. We will ask the SC for adoption of some crucial paragraphs of the Sarkaria commission report, especially about who should be invited to form the government. Failing an absolute majority to a party, a declared pre-poll alliance crossing the majority mark must be called first to form the government. Then the invite should go to a single largest party only if, being below the majority mark, it produces proof of support of independents and other members which is sufficient in numbers to cross the majority mark. A post-poll alliance with a majority should be called third, and the President's rule and fresh elections should be the last option. Along with this, we will seek specific time periods, possibly not exceeding 48 hours, for the governor to mandate the floor test. We are also going to seek guidelines regarding the appointment of pro tem speaker. While in normal situations, pro tem speaker's role is passive, in cases like Karnataka and Jharkhand, it assumes vital significance and may well involve tricky situations. We will seek formalisation of the established convention that the senior-most elected member, irrespective of party, is appointed pro tem speaker.
What role did the SC play in the way Karnataka power game played out?
I t is needless to say that the SC order played a pivotal role. It curtailed the window for shenanigans and over-adventurous acrobatics by people who might have wanted to use the unbelievable window of 15 days given by the Governor. But the psychological effect of the order is equally important. The very act of the SC in appreciating urgency and sitting in a marathon all-night hearing sent three clear signals: Appreciation of urgency of the situation; some hope to a somewhat dejected Congress cadre; and a clear signal to those fence-sitters who may have otherwise shown greater fluidity to change allegiance. Everybody knew that the SC was watching. The SC acted as a stern and fearsome supervisor of the legality and purity of the process.
Should not the SC have cancelled the invitation that the Governor extended to B S Yeddyurappa to form the government?
According to me, one of the best things Congress did was, when specifically given a choice by the court, to opt for a 30-hour window for floor test. The other alternative would have been to engage in protracted final arguments which would have led to a judgement, assuming in favour of Congress, after many months, by which time the Yeddyurappa government would have been entrenched. In a sense, we got the best of both the worlds because though the court was legally entitled to finally close the entire matter after the floor test (because nothing remained qua Karnataka), but, at my request, they were good enough to keep the main constitutional issue pending-whether Yeddyurappa or JDS-Congress should have been invited to form the government. That would be a vital judgement in future and a clear SC guideline for future government formation in similar cases.
Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and now Karnataka, why do government formation issues keep landing in courts?
The root of the problem has been the role of the Governor and over aggression of BJP and, unlike these three cases, which can be called exceptions, the unfortunate delays inherent in court adjudication in other cases.
Is it not ironical that Congress is all praises for the SC after it moved an impeachment motion against the CJI?
It is the constitutional right of 50-plus MPs to invoke the impeachment provision against an individual and the fundamental right of any political party or its members to approach the SC for redressal of grievances. If this was not so, it would have the absurd consequence of rendering the Congress or Congressmen unable to approach the SC till October (CJI's retirement). This is a ridiculous proposition. Congress has never moved a no-trust motion against the SC as an institution. I was personally opposed to the impeachment motion but you cannot mix the two issues.