Post-Karnataka, some political parties, including the Congress, have demanded that the time period allowed to prove majority in the case of a hung House should be reduced to a maximum of three days.
Representatives of various political parties are of the view that in case of a hung House, the Governor or President should ask the party or the group, which stakes claim to form government, to prove majority within three days. Normally, a party or a group is given 15 to 21 days to prove majority, which according to these parties, is “quite a long period”, and it is time an amendment is made.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, feels that it should be left to the discretion of the appropriate authority—Governor or the President—to decide the time period to prove majority on the floor of the House.
Senior Congress parliamentarian and spokesperson P.L. Punia said that the time period should be brought down to 48 hours from the time a party or a post-poll coalition of parties is asked to prove majority on the floor of the House. “The Governor should invite the single largest party or the post-poll alliance only on the basis of written document of commitment of support,” he told The Sunday Guardian.
K.C. Tyagi, a senior Rajya Sabha MP and leader of JDU, an ally of the ruling BJP, was of the view that the time period should not exceed three days. He, however, said that as a parliamentarian, he is against intervention of the judiciary in every matter relating to the legislature. “What happened in Karnataka should have been avoided. The matter should have been resolved among the political parties. There was no need to approach the court,” he said.
Tyagi said there is a need to think afresh on the issue as to how to deal with a situation arising out of a split verdict. “We have seen H.D. Deve Gowda becoming Prime Minister through the post-poll alliance route, whereas we also saw Rajiv Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee not staking claim, despite Congress and BJP being the single largest parties respectively. Political parties, Law Minister and the presiding officer should sit together and find a way so that such a situation does not arise in case of a hung Assembly or Parliament,” he added.
The BJP, however, feels that it should be the discretion of the Governor (or the President) to decide on the time length. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, BJP spokesperson and Lok Sabha MP Meenakshi Lekhi said: “As per recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, a period of up to 30 days can be given to a party (or a group) to prove majority on the floor of the House. Moreover, there has been precedence of giving time periods ranging from 15 days to 21 days. I think it should be the right of the Governor to decide on the timing. It may vary on a case-to-case basis.”
Talking about the Karnataka case, in which the Supreme Court “directed” the BJP to prove majority within 24 hours, the BJP leader said that the Constitution has used the word “discretion”, whereas the Supreme Court used “directed” to prove majority within a certain period of time. “And the ‘discretion’, as provided by the Constitution, lies with the Governor. It is inappropriate for anyone to interfere in his discretionary powers,” she said.
RJD MP and spokesperson Manoj Jha said that the period to prove the majority on the floor of the House should be reduced to not more than three days, in order to ensure that “democracy is not strangulated”. “There have been cases where big money has been used in recent times to win over support. Time has come to stop this. Whichever party or alliance is given the opportunity to form government in the wake of a hung House, should be asked to prove majority within 48 hours,” he said.