From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Floor Test
Mains level : Not Much
Bihar Chief Minister has won the floor test in the Assembly.
What is a floor test?
- A floor test is a measure to check whether the executive is enjoying the confidence of the legislature.
- 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.
How is it conducted?
- 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.
- 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 Chief Minister has to resign if they fail to prove their majority in the house.
- This happens both in the parliament and the state legislative assemblies.
- In situations when there are differences within a coalition government, the Governor can ask the Chief Minister to prove majority in the house.
Can a floor test be postponed?
- The Supreme Court recently had given some respite to some rebel leaders in Maharashtra to respond to the disqualification notice issued by the Speaker.
- Citing this as the reason, the original party leaders and loyalists have stated that it is ‘unlawful’ to initiate a floor test when the disqualification decision of the rebel leaders is pending.
- However, the previous judgments of the Supreme Court had ruled that the floor test needs not to be deferred even if the decision to disqualify the members is pending.
- In the 2020 Shivraj Singh Chouhan v/s Speaker case, the court had clarified the same.
- Additionally, the top court had allowed the rebel leaders to skip the floor test during the political crisis in Karnataka in 2019.
What is composite floor test?
- 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.
- 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 person who has the majority will form the government. In case of tie, the speaker can also cast his vote.
- When no party gets a clear majority, the governor can use his discretion in the selection of chief ministerial candidate to prove the majority as soon as possible.
Issues with the floor test
- Sometimes ruling party MLAs are lured with rewards, political or otherwise.
- Thus, the “floor test” becomes constitutionally immoral and unjust.
- This will amount to circumventing the Tenth Schedule through engineered defections through the judicial process.
Back2Basics: No Confidence Motion
- The process is explained under rule 198 of the Lok Sabha.
- Though there is no mention of the term ‘No confidence motion’ or ‘floor test’ in the Constitution, Articles 75 and 164 do mention that the executive both at the Centre and state is collectively responsible to their respective legislatures.
- Any member from the Opposition can move the no-confidence motion against the ruling government.
- The motion has to receive the backing of at least 50 members before it is accepted and subsequently.
- A date for the discussion of the motion is announced by the Speaker, which has to be within 10 days from the date of acceptance.