Floor Test

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    In Context

    • Recently the new Grand Alliance government won the floor test in Bihar Assembly.

    More about the Floor Test

    • About:
      • A floor test is primarily taken to know whether the executive enjoys the confidence of the legislature
        • This happens both in the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies.
      • It is a constitutional mechanism under which a Chief Minister appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state. 
    • Appointment of Chief Minister:
      • As per the Constitution, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor of the state.
      • 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. 
    • Vote of confidence: 
      • In case the majority is questioned, the leader of the party which claims majority has to move a vote of confidence and prove majority among those present and voting
      • The vote is taken through physical voting, or through an electronic ballot.
    • In case of failing to prove majority:
      • The incumbent Chief Minister:
        • The Chief Minister has to resign if they fail to prove their majority in the house. 
      • Forming a government:
        • The legislature is convened, and the Speaker presides over the affairs. 
        • The governor then invites the leader of the second largest party to prove his/her majority and form a government.
      • If it is a newly elected government:
        • If it is a newly elected government, the House is presided over by Speaker Pro-tem, chosen by the Governor. 

    Role of Pro-tem Speaker

    • Pro-tem speaker is a temporary speaker.
    • He/she is appointed for a limited time period to conduct the works in Lok Sabha or in state legislatures. 
    • When the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies have been elected, but the vote for the speaker and deputy speaker has not taken place, the pro-tem speaker is chosen for the conduct of the house.
    • Constitutional provisions:
    • Article 175(2) of the Indian Constitution:
      • It gives the Governor the power to summon the members of the House and call for a floor test to prove whether the incumbent government has the majority in the State Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha). 
      • On the central or national level, this power lies with the President.
    • Article 164 of the Indian constitution: 
      • It states that, “The council of ministers shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.” 
      • And so, if they do not enjoy the Legislature’s support, the Executive has to step down.
    • S.R. Bommai case:
      • In this landmark cas, the Supreme Court ruled that the refusal of the Chief Minister to undergo the floor test will be considered as the Government losing the faith of its own legislature.

    Composite floor test

    • When?
      • There is another test, Composite Floor Test, which is conducted only when more than one person stakes claim to form the government
      • When the majority is not clear, the governor might call for a special session to see who has the majority. 
    • How?
      • The majority is counted based on those present and voting
      • This can also be done through a voice vote where the member can respond orally or through division voting
        • Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote.
      • In division vote, voting can be done through electronic gadgets, ballots or slips
    • The result or the tie:
      • The person who has the majority will form the government. 
      • In case of tie, the speaker can also cast his vote.

    Role of Governor

    • 2018 Shivraj Chouhan vs Speaker Case:
      • In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that a Governor can ask for a floor test if he/she believes, based on facts, that the government no longer shares the confidence of the legislature. 
      • The apex court has also stated that the Governor, in no way, shall favour any party when it comes to the timing of the trust vote.
    • In cases of disqualification of rebel MLAs:
      • The Supreme Court has also specified that the Governor can go ahead and call for a trust vote even if there are cases of disqualification of rebel MLAs pending before the Speaker of the House, and not wait for the Speaker’s decision
    • Judicial scrutiny:
      • In the same case, the SC also ruled that whether the Governor has “relevant and germane material” to summon a floor test is up for judicial scrutiny.
    • Article 174:
      • Under provisions of this article, the Governor has the power to dissolve the Assembly at his own discretion, when the state government doesn’t enjoy the majority in the House.

    Source: TH