HC sets aside Prez Rule in U’khand, orders floor test
In an order which has left the Narendra Modi government red-faced, the bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice VK Bisht directed Chief Minister Harish Rawat to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly on April 29.
The Centre, meanwhile, has decided to challenge the order before the Supreme Court on Friday. According to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appeal against the Uttarakhand High Court order was being prepared and would be filed before the apex court on Friday morning.
In Dehradun, meanwhile, reinstated Chief Minister Harish Rawat after holding consultation with Congress and loyalist MLAs went to the Raj Bhawan to meet Governor KK Paul and apprise him of the order. He later told the media persons that he looked forward to working with the Modi government in the spirit of cooperative federalism.
Earlier in Nainital, castigating the Centre for imposing Central rule in the state on March 27, just 24-hours before the floor test of the Harish Rawat government, the High Court said invocation of Presidential proclamation under Article 356 was contrary to the laws laid down by the apex court (in the SR Bommai case). The Bench also said that the material placed before the President for invocation of Article 356 “has been found wanting justifying judicial review interfering with the proclamation.”
The court turned down an oral plea made by the Centre’s counsel for a stay on its judgment to move the Supreme Court against it. The Bench said we won’t stay our own judgment.
Earlier on Thursday when there were indications that the Centre to pre-empt any adverse order could lift President’s rule, the Court observed that it would be a travesty of justice if the Centre recalled its order imposing President’s Rule and allowed someone else to form a government now. The strong words from the Bench came after Centre’s counsel was unable to give an undertaking that President’s Rule would be in place till a verdict was given in the present case. The Bench observed, “Otherwise you can do this in every state. Impose President’s Rule for 10-15 days and then ask someone else to take oath. More than angry, we are pained that you are behaving like this. That the highest authority - Government of India - behaves like this. How can you think of playing with the court.”
The High Court also upheld the Speaker’s decision to disqualify nine dissident Congress MLAs, saying that they would have to pay the price of committing the “Constitutional sin” of defection by being disqualified. In a related development the Attorney General told mediapersons in New Delhi that the appeal would be limited to quashing of the President’s proclamation and would have nothing to do with the disqualification of nine MLAs.
During the last three days of hearing, the court has made several strong observations against the Centre on the issue of imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. It had said on Monday that the proclamation under Article 356, just a day ahead of the floor test, amounted to cutting at the root of democracy. Subsequently, it had observed that the government was introducing chaos and undermining an elected government. On Wednesday it had maintained that the decision to impose President’s Rule was subject to judicial review as even the President could go terribly wrong.