New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed that the floor test be held in the Karnataka Assembly at 4 p.m. on Saturday to ascertain the support Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa enjoys, slashing the time given to him by Governor Vajubhai Vala to prove his majority following a split verdict.
The court also barred Yeddyurappa from taking any policy decisions till the floor test.
While Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leaders hailed the court order, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders still expressed confidence of proving the majority in the curtailed time span.
The Congress and JD-S, which formed a post-poll coalition and staked claim to form the government, have shifted their newly-elected MLAs to Hyderabad from Bengaluru to prevent any poaching by the BJP.
The court rejected Yeddyurappa’s plea, made through senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, asking for at least a week’s time to face the floor test.
A bench of Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice Ashok Bhushan on Friday said the pro tem speaker, the seniormost member of the Assembly, would administer the newly-elected members their oath and then conduct the floor test.
The court also junked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal’s suggestion that the floor test be conducted through secret ballot.
BJP legislative party leader Yeddyurappa was on Thursday morning sworn in as the Chief Minister after the May 12 election threw up a hung Assembly.
The BJP won 104 of the 222 seats, falling eight short of the 112-halfway mark. The Congress bagged 78 seats and the JD-S 37.
The court also restrained the nomination of an Anglo-Indian member.
The court directed the Karnataka Director General of Police to personally ensure security of the newly-elected lawmakers.
Following the apex court order, Yeddyurappa told reporters in Bengaluru that he was confident of proving his legislative majority.
“We welcome the Supreme Court order of floor test at 4 p.m. on Saturday. We are confident of proving our majority,” he said.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was election in-charge of the BJP in Karnataka, said: “BJP is ready and confident of winning trust vote in Karnataka. We will prove our majority on the floor of the House.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi said the apex court order vindicated his party’s stand that the Governor acted unconstitutionally.
“The BJP’s bluff that it will form the government, even without the numbers, has been called by the court. Stopped legally, they will now try money and muscle, to steal the mandate,” he tweeted.
In Bengaluru, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Supreme Court had saved democracy by advancing the floor test to Saturday.
Azad said it was surprising that the Congress and the JD-S, which together have the support of 117 legislators including two independents, were not invited to form a government by the Governor.
JD-S spokesman Ramesh Babu told IANS that they had shifted 36 legislators in a bus to Hyderabad to prevent the BJP from poaching them.
The Congress also shifted its MLAs to Hyderabad in a separate luxury bus to prevent the BJP from approaching them but did not say how many legislators had been moved to the neighbouring state.
The Supreme Court, after a rare midnight hearing early on Thursday, had refused to stay the oath taking ceremony of Yeddyurappa as was sought in a joint petition by the Congress and the JD-S.