No floor test on 29 April in Uttarakhand: Supreme Court questions President's Rule in state

The Supreme Court on Wednesday framed seven questions to the BJP-led government in the Centre regarding President's Rule in Uttarakhand and sought its response. President's Rule will continue in Uttarakhand as the top court fixed 3 May as the next day of hearing. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi was representing the Centre in the top court.

The Supreme Court said that the previous order staying Uttarakhand High Court order will continue implying that there will be no floor test in the state assembly on 29 April.

The top court was hearing the Centre's plea against Uttarakhand High Court's order which set aside the President's rule in the state. An apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra on 22 April had stayed the Uttarakhand High Court's verdict reinstating Chief Minister Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand till Wednesday.

Here are the questions put up the top court:

1. Whether governor could have sent message in present manner under Article 175 (2) to conduct floor test?
2. Whether governor can ask Assembly Speaker for division of votes as both are Constitutional authorities?
3. Can a delay in the floor test be ground for proclamation of President’s rule in state?
4. Convention is money bill failed, government goes but who is to say money bill hasn’t been passed if Speaker doesn’t say so?
5. What is the stage of appropriation bill and when President’s rule comes in the picture with regards to Appropriation bill?
6. Whether disqualification of MLAs by the Speaker is a relevant issue for the purpose of imposing President’s rule under Article 356?
7. Can proceeding in the Uttarakhand Assembly be taken note by the President for imposing President’s rule?

Supreme Court. AFP

Supreme Court. AFP

The political crisis in Uttarakhand emerged after nine rebel MLAs from Congress defected to BJP during a debate over the state budget in March. They were later disqualified. Following the disqualification, Governor KK Paul asked deposed Chief Minister Rawat to prove his majority in the assembly.

In a stunning verdict on 21 April, the Uttarakhand High Court quashed the President's rule imposed by the Centre which restored the dismissed Congress government and castigated the Centre for uprooting a democratically-elected government.

The Supreme Court delivered a major blow to the former Congress government on 23 April by staying the Uttarakhand High Court's verdict setting aside President's Rule in the state. The verdict effectively re-imposed President's Rule in the state. On 27 March, the BJP-led government at the Centre had imposed President's Rule in Uttarakhand, leading the Congress, which was in power, to term it as a 'murder of democracy.' The judgment gave a new turn to the continuing political drama in the state.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, along with senior advocate Harish Salve, had pressed for the stay of the High Court judgment. He said how one party can be put at advantage and assume the office of Chief Minister when the other party is pushed to disadvantage in the absence of the judgment.

Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Rawat and the Assembly Speaker, argued hard against the passing of any interim order saying "you are allowing the appeal by giving the stay". Sibal was of the view that allowing stay of operation of the High Court verdict would be like enforcing the proclamation of the President rule.

During the jam-packed hearing, the bench sought to pacify both the parties saying that it has to take a balanced view as this is a Constitutional court. "We will take on record the copy of the judgement and go through it. This matter may go to Constitution bench," the bench said.

The apex court had clarified on 23 April that it was keeping in abeyance the judgment of the High Court till the next date of hearing (Today) as a measure of balance for both the parties as the copy of the verdict was not made available to the parties.

Congress members blocked the Parliament on Wednesdsay over Uttarakhand and shouted slogans in both Houses while accusing the Modi government of using underhand means to take over opposition-ruled states. The Uttarakhand High Court had said President's Rule should be a "last resort" and dismissing an elected government breeds cynicism in citizens.

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Updated Date: Apr 27, 2016 17:19:35 IST

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