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Everybody Wins

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Everybody got a little bit out of the two judgements announced by the Supreme Court on Thursday. In one, Eknath Shinde was confirmed in his position as Chief Minister, even as a moral victory was provided to the rival Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray. Shinde can live with that, particularly as much of the blame has been cast on former Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for exercising poor judgement. The real mistake was made by Uddhav Thackeray by resigning, thereby surrendering the right to question the legitimacy of the new government!

It must not be forgotten that, in a rapidly developing situation, the Governors of states have little to rely on except the clearly established conventions and their own judgement. They do not have the leisure to consider every legal nuance of what they do, nothing like the months and years it takes for the courts to arrive at conclusions. Sometimes the situations are unprecedented, such as the rivalry within the Shiv Sena turning into a contest to form the government. The SC feels much depended on deciding who the legitimate Party Whip was, and that this was within the powers of the Speaker and not the Governor. So, now we know, and future decisions if ever such a situation develops again will be made accordingly. That is how conventions are established.

In the other case, once again, the powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi have been defined vis-a-vis the Chief Minister with regard to appointment of officials. Chief Minister Kejriwal is gloating at the victory, claiming that development, which was hampered by recalcitrant officials, would now be ‘ten times faster’. Now he can blame any failure in governance on these officials. He has promised to exercise his newly defined powers to their fullest. It is unlikely, however, that the feeling will last, as his party is in the firing line of the judiciary in a number of other cases.

It must be noted that this is the very judiciary that the detractors of present day India have been claiming has become a tool of the Modi regime. Be it the Judiciary, or the Election Commission recording the voters’ mandate, this functionality of the system provides a valuable balance between the powers and accountability of the political parties. Everybody will have to learn how to play the game in a better way and, in this regard, India has still a long way to go.