Governors can’t play a role in intra-party disputes, says court

The Supreme Court on Thursday said former Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had mistaken a section of Shiv Sena MLAs’ expression of “discontent” with the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government for their withdrawal of support, and called for a floor test in just two days’ time in June 2022.

The Governor’s call for the floor test on June 28 led to the resignation of Uddhav Thackeray as Chief Minister the next day. “Communication expressing discontent on the part of some MLAs is not sufficient for the Governor to call for a floor test,” a Constitution Bench held.

Dissent and disagreement within a political party must be resolved in accordance with the remedies prescribed under the party constitution, the court said.

“Floor test cannot be used as a medium to resolve internal party disputes or intra-party disputes… There is a marked difference between a party not supporting a government, and individuals within a party expressing their discontent with their party leadership,” Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud pointed out.

Neither the Constitution nor laws enacted by Parliament provide for a mechanism by which disputes amongst members of a particular political party can be settled. “They certainly do not empower the Governor to enter the political arena and play a role (however minute) either in inter-party disputes or in intra-party disputes,” the Chief Justice wrote.

The Governor could not have acted upon an inference that a section of the Shiv Sena wished to withdraw their support to the government.