Move to remove UPA-appointed guv challenged in SC

Govt response sought on calls to Qureshi

Move to remove UPA-appointed guv challenged in SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to respond to Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi’s contention that the phone calls of the Union Home Secretary, asking for his exit, violated constitut­io­nal ethos and the rule of law.

In a first such move, a governor approached the court against the proposed exercise to dislodge him from office. The calls were purportedly in pursuance of the Narendra Modi government’s move to remove UPA-appointed governors.

Qureshi contended that no governor can ever be threatened to resign as he remained in office “with the pleasure of the President”. “Any communication regarding the pleasure of President must emanate from his office,” he argued.

A three-judge bench presided by Chief Justice R M Lodha admitted the petition for consideration following a brief hearing. The court issued a notice to the central government asking for its response within six weeks.

Senior advocate and former law minister Kapil Sibal, appearing for Qureshi, pointed out how the governor received threatening calls from Home Secretary Anil Goswami on July 30 and August 5, an exercise which is not in accordance with the procedure mentioned in Article 156 of the Constitution dealing with the term of governor.

Before taking up the petition, the bench comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman, told Sibal, “If pleasure of the President has to be withdrawn, somebody has to convey it to the governor. He (President) himself is not going to make a call.”
“But not in this manner,” Sibal contended, referring to the telephonic calls as well as the letter sent by Qureshi on August 30 in response to the calls purportedly asking him to resign from office.

Sibal assisted by his party colleague Salman Khurshid and others also read out the SC judgment in B P Singhal’s case of 2010 which stated no governor should be removed with a change in dispensation.

Sibal referred to the apex court’s landmark ruling on a PIL filed in the wake of the removal of the governors of  Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and Goa on July 2, 2004 by the President on the advice of  UPA-I.

Noting that the issue related to the interpretation of Article 156, the court, which also asked Goswami to respond to  Qureshi, referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench.

In his petition, Qureshi submitted, “There is no question that the Union government or the Home Minister, can through the Home Secretary, put the Governors to terms, and attempt to extract a resignation under the fear of removal.

Such mode of action is alien to the Constitution and violative of Constitutional ethos.” The Uttarakhand governor, who was appointed on May 15, 2012 for a tenure of five years, claimed such conduct as well as action would irreparably injure the basic structure of the Constitution including the federal structure and centre-state relations.

Qureshi sought direction from the court to the Centre to declare at whose behest such an action of making telephone calls was taken.

The Uttarakhand governor was appointed on May 15, 2012, for a tenure of five years

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Qureshi, said the governor received threatening calls from Home Secretary Anil Goswami on July 30 and August 5

The SC has issued a notice to the central government asking for its response within six weeks

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