Ut­tarak­hand to Stay Un­der Prez Rule till May 3

Supreme Court says Speaker is master of House; asks Cen­tre a series of queries

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @times­group.com

New Delhi: Ut­tarak­hand will con­tinue to be un­der President’s rule till May 3, the Supreme Court said while in­di­cat­ing that it would ex­am­ine whether cen­tral rule could be im­posed just be­cause the Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Bill was passed in an al­legedly ir­reg­u­lar man­ner.

“In­terim or­der to re­main in force till Wed­nes­day (May 3),” a bench of jus­tices Di­pak Misra and Shivakriti Singh said.

The court had last week directed the Cen­tre not to re­voke the pres­i­den­tial procla­ma­tion. The or­der will now be ex­tended till May 3, when the bench will hear the Cen­tre’s ap­peal against the high court or­der which re­vived the Har­ish Rawat govt in Ut­tarak­hand.

The high court had in its April 22 rul­ing quashed the pres­i­den­tial procla­ma­tion on the ground that it was not based on rel­e­vant ma­te­rial and re­vived the Rawat govern­ment. The Cen­tre had im­me­di­ately rushed to the top court against this and sought a stay on the ground that a copy of it was not avail­able and hence it could not be given ef­fect to. The Supreme Court bench had only on that count held off giv­ing ef­fect to the rul­ing for three days to en­able all par­ties to the case to get copies of the or­der. How­ever, on Wed­nes­day, the bench was forced to ex­tend the or­der as it did not have enough time to wrap the hear­ing on the Cen­tre’s ap­peal. “Prima fa­cie if we de­cide against President’s rule there has to be a floor test,” Jus­tice Misra said, while ex­tend­ing the in­terim or­der.

Ap­pear­ing for Ut­tarak­hand assembly Speaker, se­nior ad­vo­cate Kapil Sibal tried to pre­vail upon the court to at least al­low the floor test on April 29. “This is a recipe for horse-trad­ing,” he said.

But the top court re­fused to ac­cede to his de­mand in the face of stiff op­po­si­tion from at­tor­ney-gen­eral Mukul Ro­hatgi. The court sug­gested this course to the AG — let President’s rule be held in abeyance for three days and a floor test be con­ducted and the court be ap­prised of the re­sults — but the govern­ment’s top law of­fi­cer dis­agreed.

Dur­ing the two hour-long hear­ing, Jus­tice Misra posed sev­eral searching ques­tions to the AG on the stale­mate which was sparked off amid claims that the Ap­pro­pri­a­tion Bill had been passed by a voice vote de­spite de­mands for a di­vi­sion by the Op­po­si­tion BJP and Congress rebel MLAs. Jus­tice Misra ex­pressed dis­plea­sure over the man­ner in which President’s rule was im­posed. As­sum­ing that the govern­ment had lost its ma­jor­ity, a floor test should have been con­ducted in­stead of im­pos­ing President’s rule as this cre­ates a dent in democ­racy, Jus­tice Misra said.

“Ar­ti­cle 356 has to be a rare phe­nom­e­non. Whether a bill is passed or not is a constitutional con­cep­tion. You are ven­tur­ing into an arena you are not sup­posed to,” Jus­tice Misra said.

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