In Uttarakhand, the President’s Rule was a travesty of the popular mandate to begin with. Coming a day before Chief Minister Harish Rawat was to take the floor test, it defied logic and more importantly, it made a mockery of constitutional provisions guiding centre-state relations. The High Court’s ruling today puts things in the correct perspective.
As constitutional crises go, the one in Uttarakhand is certainly among the trickiest. The High Court’s decision yesterday, allowing a floor test in the assembly while President’s Rule is in operation, has been called both innovative and outrageous by constitutional experts. The judgment virtually meant the court’s direct intervention in the decision of the highest executive to keep the house in suspended animation. It also meant a unique confrontation between two institutions.
The BJP argued that it went against the historic judgment of a nine-member Supreme Court bench in 1994 while the Congress cited the same judgment in its counter. It said the judgment states that the legitimacy of a government has to be established in the assembly. The court’s order – the BJP had moved the larger bench – vindicates the Congress’ position. The floor test on Thursday will decide whether the government has the numbers.
The Centre on Wednesday moved the Uttarakhand High Court challenging an interim order by a single bench directing a floor test in the Assembly on 31 March, days after President's Rule was imposed in the state.
A petition was mentioned before a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bisht by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on behalf of the central government.
The petition sought clarity on whether the floor test can be held in the state Assembly after the promulgation of President's rule when the House is in suspended animation.
After a two-day hearing on a writ petition challenging the imposition of President's rule in the state, the single judge bench of Justice U C Dhyani in an interim order yesterday directed a floor test in the Assembly on 31 March and allowed even the nine disqualified rebel MLAs of the Congress to vote during the exercise.
Filed by former chief minister Harish Rawat through his counsel and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the writ petition has Union of India as the respondent.
With inputs from PTI