U'khand HC quashes Prez rule

U'khand HC quashes Prez rule

Rawat floor test on Apr 29; Centre to move SC

U'khand HC quashes Prez rule

In a major setback to the Centre, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday set aside the President’s Rule imposed on the state and reinstated the Harish Rawat regime.

A division bench of Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bist delivered the verdict after the Centre’s counsel refused to give an undertaking to the court that the government would not revoke the President’s Rule for a week.

The bench quashed the proclamation of the President’s Rule, saying it was contrary to the rule laid down by the Supreme Court. “The material (considered for the proclamation) has been found wanting and justifies judicial review interfering with the proclamation,” the court said.

Dictating the order in the open court, Justice Joseph also asked Rawat to face a floor test on April 29 to prove his majority. The bench also upheld the disqualification of 9 Congress rebel MLAs, saying they have to “pay the price” for committing the “Constitutional sin” of defection.

An elated Harish Rawat welcomed the High Court order.
Uttarakhand has a 71-member Assembly with the Congress having 26 MLAs, BJP (27), Congress rebels (9), Progressive Democratic Front (6), BJP rebel (1), Nominated (1). The Congress enjoys the support of the PDF, the BJP rebel and the nominated MLA. With 9 Congress rebels disqualified, the strength of the Assembly stands reduced at 62 where Rawat has support of 34 MLAs.

After a series of meetings with top government functionaries, Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi said the matter would be mentioned before the Supreme Court on Friday.

The high court pulled up the Modi-led government for dismissing an elected-government.
“The soul of the matter is whether it is open to the Central government to get rid of state governments, supplant or uproot the democratically-elected government, introduce chaos, undermine confidence of the little man who stands with a white paper to cast his vote braving the snow, heat and rain,” the bench observed.

­“We are of the view that be it suspension or dissolution, the effect is toppling of a democratically-elected government. It breeds cynicism in the hearts of citizens who participate in the democratic system and also undermines democracy and foundation of federalism,” the bench said.

The Congress welcomed the High Court order. “Those eyeing Himachal Pradesh and Manipur with greedy eyes must learn to control their greed,” Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in Delhi.

The high court order came amid reports that the BJP was making efforts to install its government in Uttarakhand by revoking the President’s Rule ahead of the Parliament Session beginning on Monday.

On Thursday morning, the Centre’s counsel expressed inability to give an undertaking that the President’s Rule would not be revoked.

“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 — the Government of India — behaves like this. How can you think of playing with the court,” the bench asked.

The verdict

HC pulls of Centre’s counsel for refusing to give undertaking that President’s Rule will not be revoked.
Court finds material for proclamation of President’s Rule wanting, justifies judicial review.
Orders status quo ante as on March 27.
Upholds disqualification of 9 Congress rebels for “constitutional sin” of
defection.


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