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What is floor test and composite floor test in Assembly?

By Chennabasaveshwar
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    The Supreme Court of India on Friday ordered for floor test in Karnataka Assembly tomorrow at 4 pm. In a bid to avoid MLA poaching, the apex court did not give more time for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

    What is floor test and composite floor test in Assembly?

    The BJP, which has 104 seats, needs the support of 8 MLAs to reach the magic number. The half-way mark in the current assembly is 112. One the other hand, post-poll alliance of the Congress and JDS has 78 and 37 MLAs respectively.

    What is floor test?

    Post the S. R. Bommai v. Union of India case, the SC decided to stop the misuse of Article 356. Thus, came into the affect the Floor Test. The Supreme Court decided that the constitutional machinery would be tested on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the State (by votes) and not as per the whims of the governor. A chief minister appointed by the governor can be asked to prove his majority.

    To be specific, the SC laid down the following Principals:

    • The majority enjoyed by the Council of Ministers shall be tested on the floor of the House.
    • Centre should give a warning to the state and a time period of one week to reply.
    • The court cannot question the advice tendered by the Council of Ministers to the President but it can question the material behind the satisfaction of the President. Hence, Judicial Review will involve three questions only:

    a. Is there any material behind the proclamation

    b. Is the material relevant.

    c. Was there any malafide use of power.

    • If there is improper use of A356 then the court will provide remedy.
    • Under Article 356(3) it is the limitation on the powers of the President. Hence, the president shall not take any irreversible action until the proclamation is approved by the Parliament i.e. he shall not dissolve the assembly.
    • Article 356 is justified only when there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery and not administrative machinery
    • If there is improper use of A356 then the court will provide remedy.
    • Under Article 356(3) it is the limitation on the powers of the President. Hence, the president shall not take any irreversible action until the proclamation is approved by the Parliament i.e. he shall not dissolve the assembly.
    • Article 356 is justified only when there is a breakdown of constitutional machinery and not administrative machinery

    Article 356 shall be used sparingly by the center, otherwise it is likely to destroy the constitutional structure between the center and the states. Even Dr. Ambedkar envisaged it to remain a 'dead letter' in the constitution.

    What is composite floor test?

    If there is more than one person staking claim to form the government and the majority is not clear the governor may call for a special session to see who has the majority. Some legislators may be absent or choose not to vote. The majority is then counted based on those present and voting. This can be done through a voice vote, where the legislators respond orally, or through a division vote.

    In case of a division vote, voting can be done using electronic gadgets, slips or in a ballot box. Ballot box is usually a secret voting - just like how people vote during state or parliamentary elections. The person who has the majority will be allowed to form the government. In case there is a tie, the speaker can cast his vote.

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