Uttarakhand crisis: Disqualification of nine rebel MLAs gives Harish Rawat upper hand in floor test on April 29
Dehradun: The High Court's decision to quash President's rule imposed in Uttarakhand has come as a big relief for the Congress party and Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who was reinstated to his post until the floor test on April 29. While the decision has acted as a big boost to Rawat who had been crying foul over the Centre's move to impose President's rule in the state, the court's directive disqualifying the nine rebel MLAs will further strengthen his stand during the floor test.
The HC's decision to set aside the membership of the nine Congress rebel MLAs from the 71-member legislative assembly, effectively brings down the strength of the state assembly to 62, including the Speaker of the House.
The Congress currently holds 27 legislators (excluding the nine rebel MLAs), the BJP has 28 and the others constitute the remaining six seats. To prove majority in the floor test, the Congress will need 31 MLAs. The other six MLAs, which are believed to have their allegiance towards the Congress, will take the Congress tally to 33, thus giving it a clear upper hand.
In a major setback for the BJP-ruled central government today, the Uttarakhand High Court today said that the imposition of Article 356 in the state was contrary to the rules laid down by the Supreme Court, and set aside the proclamation of President's rule in the hill-state. The HC also set the date of the floor test on April 29.
While the BJP has not been very forthcoming over its reactions, BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said that the judgment had come as no surprise to the party and that the ruling was on expected lines. Party in-charge for Uttarakhand Shyam Jaju later said that the BJP will approach the Supreme Court for a hearing on the matter.
"Centre is moving the Supreme Court against the High Court's decision. A chief minister who is in minority and has been caught in a sting operation has been provided. Is this democracy? We have the majority and we will prove it on the floor of the house on April 29," Jaju said.
The High Court's decision came while hearing former chief minister Harish Rawat's plea challenging Centre's decision to impose President's Rule in the state. The Centre had imposed President's rule in the state on March 27 after unruly scenes in the state assembly over the passage of the Finance Bill.
"In the end, truth has prevailed. We respect the decision of the court," Harish Rawat said reacting to the court's move to quash President's rule in the state.
The order came on a day the Centre continued to be at the receiving end of the Uttarakhand High Court's ire even as the latter sought a definite assurance that the government will not revoke the President's Rule in the state for a week.
The order led to celebrations in the Congress quarters, with leaders hailing the decision as a landmark one. Party workers were seen celebrating outside the residence of Harish Rawat.
"We are pained that you can behave like this," said the Uttarakhand High Court, when the Centre said it cannot guarantee whether President's Rule will be revoked in the hill state.
Coming down heavily on the Centre, the two-judge bench of the high court said, ''Tomorrow if you revoke President's Rule and invite somebody it will be travesty of justice.''
"Is government a private party?" it asked.
The Congress, which has challenged the Centre's rule in the state, has expressed its apprehension to the court that the President's Rule might be revoked and the Governor might invite the BJP to form government before a verdict is pronounced or even reserved.
While hearing the matter on Wednesday, the bench had said, ''President of India is not a king who is infallible but can go wrong and that his decision is open to judicial scrutiny.''
"There is no king or absolutism. Howsoever high you are, the law is above you. Legitimacy of relevant inference drawn from the material that is placed before the President is open to judicial review," a bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice VK Bist said.
"Absolute power can spoil anybody's mind. Even the President can go wrong and in such case his decisions can be subjected to scrutiny. Indian courts have the power to scrutinise all orders," the court said.