Mumbai: Devendra Fadnavis has to prove his majority in the Maharashtra Assembly “within 24 hours” on Wednesday evening, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
The ruling came on a petition challenging the surprise government formation by BJP and an NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar in Maharashtra.
The new MLAs will be sworn in by 5 pm and the floor test will take place after that, said a three-judge bench.
The top court also said that the floor test has to be videographed and it must be presided over by an interim Speaker to be appointed by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari immediately.
The newly-formed Congress, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine had petitioned the Supreme Court against the manner in which Devendra Fadnavis took power, in a secretive oath ceremony along with Ajit Pawar of NCP.
On its part, the Centre argued that the Governor had invited Fadnavis to form government based on a letter showing the support of 170 MLAs, including all 54 of the NCP of Ajit Pawar, who was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister.
While Fadnavis took charge on Monday, Ajit Pawar did not. The rival group of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress has submitted court documents with 154 MLA signatures and had called for an “immediate” test of strength in the Maharashtra Assembly.
The role of the interim Speaker assumes much importance now. By convention, the senior most member of the Assembly becomes the interim or pro-tem Speaker.
Among the 288 members elected in last month’s elections, Balasaheb Thorat is the only one serving his eighth term. NCP’s Dilip Walse-Patil, Jayant Patil and Ajit Pawar, Congress’s KC Padvi, BJP’s Kalidas Kolambkar and Babanrao Pachpute are serving their seventh term and the Speaker of the previous Assembly and BJP leader Haribhau Bagde, NCP’s Chhagan Bhujbal and BJP’s Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil are serving their sixth term.