SC stays HC order, brings back President's Rule in Uttarakhand: All you need to know

It appears that the political crisis in Uttarakhand is not about to be resolved any time soon. In a major blow to the Congress government in Uttarakhand, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Uttarakhand High Court's verdict setting aside President's Rule in the state till 27 April.

The verdict effectively re-imposes 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 gives a new turn to the continuing political drama in the state.

The apex court's order comes a day after the High Court's order setting aside President's Rule led to jubilation in the Congress camp. The order had been termed as a setback for the central government.

Before passing a brief order, a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh recorded an undertaking given by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the "Union of India shall not revoke the Presidential proclamation till the next date of hearing".

The apex court clarified that it was keeping in abeyance the judgment of the High Court till the next date of hearing on 27 April  as a measure of balance for both the parties as the copy of the verdict was not made available to the parties.

While listing the matter for hearing on 27 April, the bench said that the High Court shall provide the judgment passed on Thursday to the parties by 26 April and on the same date the copy of the verdict shall also be placed before the apex court.

Harish Rawat. File photo. IBNLive

Harish Rawat. File photo. IBNLive

The Supreme Court's stay has the effect of undoing the revival of the Congress government led by Harish Rawat by the High Court judgment on Thursday.

During the hearing, the bench also observed that as a matter of propriety the High Court should have signed the verdict so that it would be appropriate for it to go into the appeal.

The apex court issued notice to Harish Rawat and Chief Seceretary of the state on the petition by Centre challenging the quashing of Presidential proclamation under Article 356 of the Constitution in the state.

The order came after an hour-long, heated argument on the central government's petition seeking stay of the high court order.

"A short order has been granting a complete stay...This means that the chief minister will have no jurisdiction to work until further orders," said Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.

"The material (considered for the proclamation) has been found wanting and justifies judicial review interfering with the proclamation," the High Court had said.

In his first reaction, deposed Chief Minister Harish Rawat looked unfazed by Supreme Court's stay on HC order. Rawat told mediapersons, "This order is interim, till 27th, because Supreme Court didn't have High Court's judgement copy."

Responding to the High Court order on Thursday, the BJP had stuck to its stand, saying, "The Harish Rawat government was in a minority yesterday, it is in a minority today and tomorrow. It will be proved on 29 April." While the Congress had erupted on celebrations on Thursday after the High Court verdict, time will tell whether the celebrations were premature.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, along with senior advocate Harish Salve, 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.

One of the first reactions came from former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Vijay Bahuguna who said:

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya was quoted as saying:

Coming down heavily on the Centre for the 27 March proclamation under Article 356, a division bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice K M Joseph on Thursday had said the imposition of the President's rule was contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court. However, according to reports, the BJP government at the Centre said that they will challenge High Court's order in Supreme Court.

About Centre's contention that Rawat had not disclosed the representation of BJP MLAs demand for division of votes, the court had said, "This is not a case where representation not actually produced as claimed by Respondent one (Centre). But greater care should have been taken (by petitioner).

"The fact remains, the petitioner actually produced it no doubt describing it as a representation given on the evening of March 18. Having regard to the totality of facts, we cannot decline judicial review on this ground of non-production of representation or the proclamation," the bench said.

With regard to use of Article 356 over the years, the bench said, "It is to be remembered that power under 356 came in for considerable misuse over the years. Incidentally, we must note that the party to which petitioner belongs has not covered itself with glory with regard to its actions in first 40 years of Independence which saw nearly 100 dissolutions taking place."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Apr 23, 2016 10:46:55 IST

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