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SC notice to Centre on Governors' dismissal

SC notice to Centre on Governors
Highlights

Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi’s petition challenging the Modi government’s moves to ‘nudge him out’ of office has been admitted by the Supreme Court.

Uttarakhand Guv alleges threat of dismissal

  • Court sees case for action under Article 156
  • Gives 6 weeks time to Centre, its Home Secy
  • Modi govt sacked 2 Governors; 4 more quit after phone calls by Home Secretary


Uttarakhand Governor Aziz QureshiNew Delhi: Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi’s petition challenging the Modi government’s moves to ‘nudge him out’ of office has been admitted by the Supreme Court. It has been referred to a five-judge constitution bench as it involved the interpretation of Article 156 of the Constitution. The Centre has been given six weeks’ time to respond.

The apex court also issued notice to Home Secretary Anil Biswas who had allegedly threatened the Governor to resign from the post or face dismissal. The petition which happens to be the first of its kind was filed on Wednesday and was listed before Chief Justice R M Lodha on Thursday, and was dealt with in this fashion.

The 74-year old Qureshi is a former Congress MP from Satna in Madhya Pradesh and in his petition he has referred to political and administrative pressure being brought on him by the central government. He has referred to phone calls from the union home secretary asking to quit and put in his papers.

Describing this as ‘ rank insubordination’ and audacious behaviour,” the Uttarakhand Governor has said that the only authority that can seek his resignation is the President of India.

His petition banks on an earlier decision of the Supreme Court delivered in May 2010 in a similar case that was filed by the then BJP MP B P Singhal regarding the manner in which the UPA government had eased governors appointed by the previous NDA regime. In that judgment, the Supreme Court had laid down the parameters quite clearly: “ The governor is not an employee of the central government to warrant removal on the grounds of loss of confidence.”

It had added: “ While the President need not disclose or inform the cause for his removal to a Governor, it is imperative that a cause must exist. If we do not proceed on that premise, it would mean that the President, on the advice of the council of ministers, may make any order, which may be manifestly arbitrary or mala fide.”

Soon after the Modi government took office, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had made it abundantly clear that it wanted the UPA appointed Governors to quit on their own.” I would have done if I had been in there place,” he had said.

Since then there have been media reports of the governors getting phone calls from the union home ministry. Some of the governors have resigned as well, whereas the then Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal was first shifted to Mizoram and then dismissed. Virendra Kataria, a Congressman, was also sacked as the Governor of Pondicherry.

Virendra Kataria, a former Congress leader, was also sacked as Puducherry Governor last month. Goswami is believed to have telephoned some of the Governors, appointed by the previous UPA regime, asking them to step down after which West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan, Nagaland Governor Ashwani Kumar, UP Governor B L Joshi and Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt put in their papers.

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