Ut­tarak­hand Prez Rule to stay, no floor test for now

SC ques­tions cen­tral govt on move, sets next date of hear­ing for May 3

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NEWS - Bhadra Sinha bhadra.sinha@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Ut­tarak­hand will re­main un­der Pres­i­dent’s rule, the Supreme Court said on Wed­nes­day, draw­ing the cur­tains on the April 29 test of strength in the assem­bly by for­mer chief min­is­ter Har­ish Rawat. How­ever, a bench of jus­tices Di­pak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh said that a floor test could be the best op­tion to re­solve the is­sue. It also posed seven ques­tions to the Cen­tre on the role of con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­i­ties like gover­nor, speaker and the Pres­i­dent.

The Ut­tarak­hand po­lit­i­cal cri­sis has es­ca­lated a turf war be­tween the BJP and the Congress which ac­cuses the rul­ing party at the Cen­tre of try­ing to dis­lodge op­po­si­tion-ruled state gov­ern­ments. The Apex Court is hear­ing a pe­ti­tion by the Cen­tre chal­leng­ing the Ut­tarak­hand high court’s ver­dict quash­ing cen­tral rule in the state and al­low­ing the for­mer chief min­is­ter Har­ish Rawat to prove his gov­ern­ment’s strength in the assem­bly on Fri­day.

Re­act­ing to the stay on the floor test, Rawat — who turned 69 on Wed­nes­day — said in Dehradun that he had full faith in the ju­di­ciary and was ready to “em­brace what­ever the apex court fi­nally rules”. The ver­dict in the case, which will come up for hear­ing on May 3, is likely to be pro­nounced be­fore the court breaks for sum­mer va­ca­tion by the mid-May.

“The mat­ter has its own grav­ity and ul­ti­mately in such a case prima fa­cie we have to sus­tain democ­racy and if we don’t find merit with the Pres­i­dent’s rule then we will have to have a floor test,” the apex court said.

The apex court also ex­pressed dis­plea­sure over the man­ner in which the state was brought un­der Cen­tral rule. “Ar­ti­cle 356 of the Con­sti­tu­tion (un­der which the Cen­tre no­ti­fies Pres­i­dent’s rule) has to be a rare phe­nom­ena… You (Cen­tre) are ven­tur­ing into an arena where you are not sup­posed to,” the bench said.

At the end two-hour-long hear­ing, the court wanted to per­mit the floor test but on at­tor­ney gen­eral Mukul Ro­hatgi’s re­quest re­frained from pass­ing the or­der.

On March 27 the Cen­tre clamped Pres­i­dent’s rule in the state cit­ing a con­sti­tu­tional break­down in the wake of a re­bel­lion by nine rul­ing Congress MLAs, who sided with the BJP leg­is­la­tors dur­ing the bud­get ses­sion of the assem­bly.

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