Floor tests in Indian politics

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UP: The Jagdambika Pal case, 1998

Nov 25, 2019: The Times of India

The Supreme Court had in 1998 ordered a composite floor test in Uttar Pradesh when governor Romesh Bhandari had sacked Kalyan Singh as chief minister and Congress leader Jagdambika Pal was appointed his successor. If more than one person stakes claim to form government and the majority is not clear, the governor may call for a special session to see who has majority. Some legislators may be absent or may choose not to vote. In such a case, the majority is counted based on those present and voting.

In Jagdambika Pal vs Union Of India And Ors, 1998, the SC had ordered a composite floor test, which was won by Kalyan Singh with 225 votes against Pal’s 196 votes. The speaker’s conduct had been severely criticised as he had withheld his verdict in the disqualification case of 12 members under anti-defection law.

But even when those 12 members were taken to have voted in favour of Kalyan Singh, their votes when subtracted from those polled still left Singh as the one with majority in the House. Subsequently, Kalyan Singh, whose offer to go for a floor test was declined by the governor, was reinstated as chief minister.

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