Explained: In Maharashtra political crisis, powers of Governor, floor test law in spotlight

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The Maharashtra political crisis has once again put the spotlight on the role of the Governor to call for a floor test.

Constitution on the role of Governor in calling for a floor test 

Article 174(2)(b): It gives powers to the Governor to dissolve the Assembly on the aid and advice of the cabinet. 

– However, the Governor can apply his mind when the advice comes from a Chief Minister whose majority could be in doubt.

Article 175(2): It says that the Governor can summon the House and call for a floor test to prove whether the government has the numbers. 

Article 163: It says that the governor shall exercise her or his functions with the aid and advice of the council of ministers. But it also adds that she or he would not need their advice if the Constitution requires her or him to carry out any function at her/his discretion.

Supreme Court on Powers of Governor in calling for a floor test 

In 2020, the Supreme Court in Shivraj Singh Chouhan & Ors versus Speaker case upheld the powers of the Speaker to call for a floor test if there is a prima facie view that the government has lost its majority.

The court also held that the Governor is not deprived of the power to order a floor test where on the basis of the material available to the Governor it becomes evident that the issue as to whether the government commands the confidence of the House requires it to be assessed on the basis of a floor test.

Note: When the House is in session, it is the Speaker who can call for a floor test. But when the Assembly is not in session, the Governor’s residuary powers under Article 163 allow him to call for a floor test.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: In Maharashtra political crisis, powers of Governor, floor test law in spotlight” published in Indian Express on 23rd June 2022.

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