The actions of the Governor are not within the purview of Supreme Court, the Centre said today, objecting vehemently to a petition by the Shiv Sena, the Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party regarding the singular government formation in Maharashtra. In a span of few hours, Sharad Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar had switched sides, President's Rule in the state was revoked and Devendra Fadnavis took oath with Mr Pawar as his deputy.
The three prospective allies, who were trying to form government in Maharashtra, had approached the court, accusing Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari of partisanship, saying he made a "mockery of the high office of the Governor".
Mukul Rohatgi, the former Attorney General who is representing the BJP MLAs, said, the Governor's decision cannot be subject to a judicial review.
"The Governor not answerable for his actions... The Governor is immune under Article 361. There is complete bar on any action against Governor," he said.
Pointing to the petition, Mr Rohatgi said "Prayer in the petition says 'direct the governor to invite...' How can this be a prayer?"
In a lighter vein, Justice NV Ramana replied, "Mr. Rohatgi, in this court, the sky is the limit for asking for prayers".
"Everyone knows the Supreme Court cannot direct the Governor to invite them... The house respects the court and the court must respect house," Mr Rohatgi said. "Suppose if the house passes orders that the Supreme Court must dispose all cases within two years?" he then added, causing much laughter in the packed court-room.
"We respect the house," responded Justice Ramana, who was part of the three-judge bench hearing the petition on a Sunday following directions from Chief Justice SA Bobde.
"We don't know what the Governor asked," said Justice Ashok Bhushan. To Justice Bhusan's query on when Mr Fadnavis had submitted the support letter, Kapil Sibal, who was representing the petitioners, responded that it was "not on record".
The court has asked the Centre to submit two letters crucial to government formation in the state - the one by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to Governor claiming majority, the other by the Governor inviting him to form government.
The whole process apparently took place in a span of a few hours. At 5.47 am, President's Rule was revoked in the state and in less than two hours, the oath ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis and his deputy Ajit Pawar took place with a handful of people in attendance.
In their petition, the three parties have claimed that the Governor was "duty bound" to study the claim of Mr Fadnavis before inviting him to form government. This was especially so when the Sena, NCP and the Congress, which have 154 MLAs together, have expressed their intention to stake claim to form the government, they said.