Uttarakhand Prez Rule to stay, no floor test for now
SC questions central govt on move, sets next date of hearing for May 3
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.