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Uttarakhand HC sets aside President’s Rule “The Court has upheld the disqualification of rebel Cong. MLAs”

1. There is National emergency already in whole of India, or in the whole or any part of the state.

2. Election commission certifies that elections can not be conducted in the concerned state. Although, President’s rule can be revoked anytime by the President and it does not need Parliament’s approval.

Most often, until the mid-1990s, it was imposed in states through abuse of the authority of Governors in collusion with the federal government. However, following a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court of India in March 1994, such abuse has been reduced drastically.

Criticism:

Though the Division Bench of Chief Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice V.K. Bisht, hearing the case challenging President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, initially decided to reserve its order, it gave its verdict on Thursday, following apprehensions voiced by the counsel for Harish Rawat that the Centre might revoke President’s Rule and try and get the BJP to form a government. Earlier, the Bench slammed the Centre for allegedly planning to revoke President’s Rule before the verdict. Chief Justice Joseph said: “We are pained that the Central government can behave like this. How can you think of playing with the court?” “If they [the Centre] revoke Article 356 and try and form a [BJP] government [in Uttarakhand]… what is it but a travesty of justice?” he said. Though the arguments in the case had concluded on Wednesday, the Centre had requested the Bench for time until Thursday to furnish details on suspended BJP leader Bhim Lal Arya. The Centre had used his “delayed suspension” to allege that the Speaker had indulged in “double standards.” He had suspended the nine Congress MLAs but ‘delayed the suspension’ of Mr. Arya. The Bench said: “The Centre submitted that what was said on B.L. Arya and on the Speaker’s double standards was a mistake. What was hotly contested by Attorney General [Mukul Rohatgi earlier] was completely non-existent material. We are in fact shocked that a decision taken at the highest [President’s] level was not done with due care. It was blatant falsehood [committed by the Centre].” Considering that the petitioner, Mr. Rawat, was deprived of an opportunity to prove his majority in the House, the court ordered that a floor test must be held on April 29. However, during the hearings, allegations of corruption had been raised against Mr. Rawat on the basis of a sting operation showing that he tried to bribe the nine rebel Congress MLAs. Though the court gave Mr. Rawat a chance to prove his majority, it did take a tough stance on corruption allegations. However, relief could not be denied (to Mr. Rawat) on allegations of corruption, the court maintained. “It [the current situation] has to be seen in the larger canvas of democracy, federalism and rule of law.” The court said that it was “of the view that be it suspension [of Uttarakhand Assembly] or dissolution, the effect is the toppling of a democratically elected government. Such decisions breed cynicism in the hearts of people who voted a government to power.” Disqualification of the rebel Congress MLAs, and horse-trading allegations against Mr. Rawat were not relevant enough reasons for invoking the “draconian 356”, the court said. ‘Constitutional sin’ Commenting on the nine rebel MLAs who stood against their own party on March 18, the court said, “It’s a constitutional sin to defect.” Referring to a Supreme Court order, the High Court Bench said that if one defected, one shall bear the consequences.

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Amit Singh

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