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Travesty of Constitution

Travesty of Constitution
Highlights

The controversial decision of the Government of India to recommend President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh is now before the Supreme Court. The apex court has sought the Governor’s report to the Centre that led to the imposition of President’s Rule. The apex court which is to take up the hearing again next week would have to adjudicate on many constitutional questions raised by this ugly political e

The controversial decision of the Government of India to recommend President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh is now before the Supreme Court. The apex court has sought the Governor’s report to the Centre that led to the imposition of President’s Rule. The apex court which is to take up the hearing again next week would have to adjudicate on many constitutional questions raised by this ugly political episode.

The Supreme Court in the historic judgment in S R Bommai case stated that though the Union Cabinet’s advice to President of India is not a subject of judicial review, the constitutional validity of the material on which the Union Cabinet rendered its advice will be a subject of judicial review. Therefore, the Governor’s alleged partisan actions will be under the scrutiny of the constitutional bench of the apex court.

The Governor’s intentions are mala fide prima facie. The Governor being the politician belonging to the party that rules the Centre, his actions obviously raise suspicion. The sequence of events typically fits into a sinister pattern seen in the past to dislodge the governments run by parties opposed to the ruling party at the Centre.

It all began in Arunachal Pradesh, too, with dissidence in the ruling Congress party in the State. The opposition BJP joined hands with rebels. Governor acted in a manner that destabilises the elected State government.

The Governor sends a report to the Centre, based on which the Union Cabinet recommends the President’s rule. The course of events clearly indicates the culpability of the central government, whether or not the court can establish it.

The imposition of President’s Rule has to be ratified by Parliament. As the government lacks majority in the Rajya Sabha, the issue would trigger political slugfest seriously impairing the functioning of the budget session of parliament.

However, the Congress lacks legitimacy to display righteous indignation over what it calls murder of democracy. Precisely, because the Congress was the pioneer in misusing Article 356 that empowers Union Cabinet to recommend President’s Rule. But, this criticism, though justifiable, cannot absolve the BJP of its conspiratorial role in Arunachal Pradesh.

Thus, the BJP and the Congress are indulging in a ridiculous pigeon–and–statue game. The Congress and the BJP have been exchanging the roles of perpetrators and victims. But, Indian democracy is always the victim.

Arunachal Pradesh is a sensitive North Eastern State. Similar political games have in the past disrupted and destroyed the political process in Jammu & Kashmir, leading to alienation of Kashmiris from national mainstream. The separatists and the hostile forces across the border capitalised on this sense of alienation only. But, the political system refuses to learn from this experience and continues with same dirty political tricks in yet another sensitive border State.

The Governor by not ensuring a floor test to determine the majority of State government has violated the apex court judgment of SR Bommai case. B R Ambedkar said, “The proper thing we ought to expect that such articles (Article 356) will never be called into operation and that they would remain dead letter.” But, Indian ruling politicians have once again frustrated the great hopes of architects of constitution for political expediency.

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