In a major setback for Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the Supreme Court of India (SC) recently protected rebel Shiv Sena MLAs from disqualification proceedings until July 12. The apex court also denied the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition’s request to halt the rebels from demanding a floor test in the assembly.
What is a ‘floor test’?
- A floor test is done to ensure whether the government in position enjoys the support of the majority legislature.
- When a single party secures the majority of the seats in the house, the Governor appoints the leader of the party as the Chief Minister (CM).
- In case the majority is questioned, the leader of the party (CM) which claims majority has to move a vote of confidence and prove majority among those present and voting.
- In case more than one person is claiming to form the government and the majority is not clear, the Governor may call for a special session to see who has the majority.
- In case of a tie, the Speaker casts his vote.
- The CM has to resign if they fail to prove the majority in the house.
- Hence, a floor test is a Constitutional mechanism (Article 164) under which a CM appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
- When the House is in session, the Speaker has the authority to call a floor test. When the Assembly is not in session, the Governor may call for a floor test under Article 163.
- The SC, in the SR Bommai Case (1994), laid down certain guidelines so as to prevent the misuse of Article 356 of the Indian Constitution.
- One such guideline is – The majority enjoyed by the Council of Ministers shall be tested on the floor of the House.