Bold and historic verdict
The Central government’s partisan handling of Uttarakhand situation is dealt a decisive blow by the High Court which has quashed the imposition of President\'s Rule in the State and revived the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat, who has been asked to prove his majority on April 29.
The Central government’s partisan handling of Uttarakhand situation is dealt a decisive blow by the High Court which has quashed the imposition of President's Rule in the State and revived the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat, who has been asked to prove his majority on April 29.
The court has rightly observed that even the President is not a king. He is also not infallible. Of course, the last word has to come from the Supreme Court as the Centre is contemplating moving the apex court.
The High Court said Central rule should be clamped on a State as a last resort, suggesting this did not happen in Uttarakhand. The imposition of the President's Rule was contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
"The material (considered for the proclamation) has been found wanting and justifies judicial review interfering with the proclamation," the court said.
In the famous SR Bommai verdict, the apex court said that the majority of Chief Minister can only be tested on the floor of the House. But the Union Cabinet cannot arbitrarily come to a conclusion that the State government has lost the majority.
A day before the scheduled floor test, the Union Cabinet advised the President of India to remove the elected State government and impose the President’s rule.
The Centre may have a genuine grievance over the manner in which the Speaker of the State Assembly handled two crucial proceedings. The Speaker rejected division on Appropriation Bill and disqualified rebel Congress MLAs.
But, the Constitution says that the Speaker and the Speaker alone is the ultimate authority on the legislative proceedings. The Central government cannot have its own interpretation to prevail.
The best thing for the Centre is to respect the High Court verdict and allow for the floor test to continue. Let the Assembly decide who enjoys the confidence of the house.
Both the BJP and the Congress have certainly indulged in horse trading. No party can claim patent over political morality. But this is a political question. The Constitutional question is clear.
The floor test is mandatory. The Speaker’s decision over the disqualification of rebel Congress MLAs is constitutionally valid. The BJP may be right on its allegation that the Speaker has applied the anti-defection law in a discriminatory manner.
But, that is how the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution is subverted everywhere and the court has to pronounce its verdict.
The Central government argues that the Speaker has rejected the demand for division on the Appropriation Bill. The passing of the bill itself is null and void.
But, the Centre cannot be umpire on legislative proceedings even if its version is true. The imposition of President’s Rule is a subversion of federalism. The High Court has precisely held this position.
The court is to hear the other petition concerning the disqualification of rebel Congress MLAs. The outcome of this case can lead to interesting twists in political situation in the State.
Otherwise, the Congress Chief Minister is likely to win the floor test. This would be the future course of events unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise.