Nayab Singh Saini-led Haryana govt’s future hinges on 2 key factors | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Nayab Singh Saini-led Haryana govt’s future hinges on 2 key factors

May 09, 2024 02:08 PM IST

Experts said the governor can use their discretionary powers under Article 163 (1) of the Constitution and ask the government to prove its majority

CHANDIGARH: The political crisis in Haryana has brought the governor’s role into sharp focus, with experts underlining two key factors that might determine the course of political events in the northern state.

Haryana chief minister Nayab Singh Saini passed a trust vote on March 13 after the JJP pulled support, prompting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rejig the government. (PTI FILE)
Haryana chief minister Nayab Singh Saini passed a trust vote on March 13 after the JJP pulled support, prompting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rejig the government. (PTI FILE)

The first is whether the Nayab Singh Saini government will face a floor test.

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Chief minister Saini passed a trust vote on March 13 after the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) pulled support, prompting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rejig the government.

Also Read: ‘Pull down Haryana govt, BJP’s ex-ally Jannayak Janata Party asks Congress

When a House is in session, a proposal for a no confidence motion requires to be moved before the speaker. However, such a motion can be presented before the governor when the House is not in session, which means that opposition parties can request the governor to summon a special session for the government to prove its majority.

Experts said opposition parties are free to call for a no-confidence motion if they so deem fit because the Saini administration passed a trust vote, which is distinct from a no-confidence motion.

Also Read: Dushyant Chautala of JJP writes to governor, seeks floor test

But experts also underlined that the governor is under no legal compulsion to convene a House session before a six-month period has passed from the previous sitting. So, given that the House last assembled on March 13, Haryana governor Bandaru Dattatreya is not required to call for a session before September 13.

Experts said the governor can use their discretionary powers under Article 163 (1) of the Constitution and ask the government to prove its majority if convinced that the government has lost its majority in the House.

Through a series of judgments, including the Constitution bench rulings in SR Bommai (1994), Nebam Rebia (2016) and Subhash Desai (Maharashtra political crisis, in 2023) cases, the Supreme Court has consistently maintained that the governor is not stripped of his authority to call for a floor test if it is clear from the materials at his disposal that a floor test is necessary to determine if the government is worthy of the House’s confidence.

“In a situation where the governor has reasons to believe that the chief minister and his council of ministers have lost the confidence of the House, it is open to the governor, to require the chief minister and his council of ministers to prove their majority in the House, by a floor test,” the Nebam Rebia judgment held.

Following these precedents, the Supreme Court in Shivraj Singh Chouhan Vs Speaker, Madhya Pradesh Assembly (2020), the apex court further clarified that the power under Article 174 of the Constitution to summon the House and to prorogue it is one which is exercised by the governor on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

“But in a situation where the governor has reasons to believe that the council of ministers, headed by the chief minister, has lost the confidence of the House, constitutional propriety requires that the issue be resolved by calling for a floor test. The governor in calling for a floor test cannot be construed to have acted beyond the bounds of constitutional authority,” it underlined.

The continuous existence of that confidence is crucial to the legitimacy and hence survival of the government, the court said in the 2020 judgment, adding it is a matter which can brook no delay since the authority of the government presided over by the chief minister depends on the council of ministers continuing to have the faith of the legislative body as a collective entity.

Several examples exist of two no-confidence motions being moved within less than six months of each other.

CPI (M) member from West Bengal, Jyotirmoy Bosu, moved a no-confidence motion against the Indira Gandhi-led central government on May 9, 1974. The main grounds for moving the motion was a railway strike. The motion was defeated on May 10, 1974.

But, in less than three months, Bosu again moved a motion of no-confidence against the government on July 23, 1974, arguing that ordinances that were promulgated introducing compulsory deposit scheme for income tax payers and putting restrictions on dividends were unjustified. The motion was defeated on July 25, 1974.

In the seventh Lok Sabha, a motion of no confidence was moved by George Fernandes on May 8, 1981, which was defeated on May 9, 1981. Another no-confidence motion was moved about four months later by Samar Mukherjee on September 17, 1981. The motion was defeated as well.

Similarly, in the 10th Lok Sabha, a no-confidence motion was moved against the PV Narasimha Rao government on July 17,1992 by Jaswant Singh. Another no confidence motion was moved five months later by Atal Behari Vaypayee on December 21, 1992 against the same government.

Haryana assembly speaker Gian Chand Gupta said the governor will “use his wisdom to decide whether a no-confidence motion can be brought in the House”.

“Usually, it is seen that once a government wins a vote of confidence, a no-confidence motion is not brought within six months. However, the decision rests with the governor,’’ Gupta said.

Punjab and Haryana high court lawyer Keshavam Chaudhri, however, disputed this and said there is no specific rule mandating a six-month waiting period between two no-confidence motions.

“If the MLAs backing a government withdraw their support, the minority government cannot be granted six months based solely on a timing gap,’’ he said.

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