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FOR A FLOOR TEST FIRST: ON MADHYA PRADESH CRISIS

Why in news?

  • Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has to prove its majority on the floor of the legislature at the earliest. Delaying tactics by Mr. Nath goes against democratic principles.
  • Also, the Governor’s position that the government will be presumed to have lost the majority unless it takes a floor test immediately is untenable.

How it all started?

The Congress had won a narrow victory in the State in 2018, after a 15-year gap. The resignation of 22 party MLAs has pushed its government into a crisis. These MLAs had won on Congress ticket and now defected with the lead taken by defection of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Congress to the BJP.

What the SC has said before?

The BJP, the Congress and the rebel MLAs have all approached the Supreme Court which has taken up the matter with urgency.

  • The Court ruling during the Karnataka crisis was that a time-frame for deciding on resignations by MLAs could not be forced on the Speaker.
  • The Court also ruled that MLAs could not be forced to attend the Assembly session by being issued a whip by the party they belonged to, weakening the lynchpin of the Anti-Defection law.

Whatever the outcome, it is not good for democracy

  • While the judiciary will force some solution to end the current impasse, the larger question facing democracy is that of trust and transparency. Assemblies are elected for a five-year term, and the Anti-Defection law was brought to raise the threshold and stop the dismantling of a popular mandate through opportunistic manoeuvres, as it is unfolding in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The situation demands new guidelines by the Court to deal with the now-familiar malaise, beyond setting a reasonably quick deadline for a floor test.

What is a Floor Test?

  • A floor test can be explained as a motion initiated by the government in position seeking to know if it enjoys the confidence of the legislature.
  • As part of this procedure, the chief minister appointed by the governor will be asked to prove majority on the Legislative Assembly’s floor.
  • When a floor test is called for in the assembly of a state, the chief minister will move a vote of confidence and prove that he has the majority support.
  • If the floor test fails, the chief minister will have to resign.
  • The whole idea of a floor test is incorporated in the constitution of India to ensure transparency in the constitutional process.

Motion of No-Confidence

  • No-confidence Motion or Motion of No-confidence is one of different types of motions in Indian Parliament. The constitutional provision behind this motion is Article 75, which says that “Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha”.
  • Thus, a council of ministers stays in office as long as it enjoys the confidence of majority of the members of Lok Sabha. Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing motion of no-confidence by simple majority.
  • Process of no-confidence motion is mentioned under Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and conduct of Lok Sabha.
  • Motion of No-confidence can be moved  only in Lok Sabha (Or State Legislative Assembly).
  • Rajya Sabha (Or state Legislative Council) does not have power to entertain such motion since it decides the fate of a popularly elected government.

Passing of No-Confidence Motion in Lok Sabha

  • Such a motion can be moved by any member of the house.
  • The member moving such motion is generally a member of opposition.
  • The motion need support of at least 50 members to be admitted.
  • Once admitted, it has to be passed within 10 days in the house.
  • The motion has to be passed by simple majority.
  • If passed, the Union Council of Ministers has to resign and government at centre falls. There is no impact on health of the government if such motion is not passed.
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September 2022
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