Millennium Post

Won't interfere: SC on MP floor test, cites Constitutional duties

New Delhi: Sixteen rebel Congress MLAs cannot be held "hostage" and should be allowed "free and unrestrained" exercise of their choice during the ongoing political crisis in Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.

The top court, hearing cross-pleas of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state Congress party, made clear that it will not come in the way of the legislative process which will decide the fate of the 18-month-old Kamal Nath government.

"The MLAs cannot be held hostage and captive. They should have access. They should be allowed to do what they want. Let there be free and unrestrained exercise of their choice.

"We are not going to come in the way of the legislature to decide who enjoys the trust of the legislature. We do know that these 16 (MLAs) tilt the balance in one way or the other... If they choose to come, they should have free, unhindered and uninterrupted access to the Assembly," said the bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta.

The bench, however, was apparently not in agreement with the submission of senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the MP Congress Legislature Party (MPCLP), that the fixed five-year term of the Assembly was part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

Dave had said heavens are not going to fall if the Kamal Nath government is allowed to remain in office till the by-elections are held on 22 seats, to be vacated due to the resignations of rebel MLAs.

Citing the principle of constitutional morality, he said BJP has been using "force and might" to destroy democratic principles and some Gujarat MLAs were shifted to Bangalore, the party had used CRPF and the IT department to carry out raids on Congress leaders.

He also questioned the actions of Governor Lalji Tandon and said the august office has been saying that the government has lost the majority and questioned as to how such an opinion can be formed without hearing anyone.

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