Uttarakhand roller-coaster continues: HC stays floor test till 7 April
The political seesaw in Uttarakhand continued with the Division Bench of the Nainital High Court putting a stay on an earlier order passed by a single judge asking the Harish Rawat government to prove its majority on the floor of the legislative assembly on 31 March.
The order came after Centre rushed Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to Nainital to argue against the order passed by the High Court on 28 March asking for a floor test. The Centre had filed a petition asking for a stay on the earlier order by the High Court. The two member bench was represented by Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice VK Bisht.
Strongly condemning the order of the single judge UC Dhyani, Rohatgi said that courts can't interfere in President's proclamation. Putting a stay on the floor test, the Division Bench will now meet on 6 April to hear the case. Rohatgi argued, "How can a floor test be ordered when a Presidential proclamation is in force and the Assembly is in suspended animation?" He also added that a trust vote would mean that there are "two governments, one that has had the sitting and one that is there under central rule.
Reprimanding the Centre, the court asked that what was the hurry in imposing President's rule when the Governor had already asked for a floor test on 28 March. The Division Bench asked Rohatgi, "When the Governor had set the date of the floor test on 28 March, what was the hurry to impose President's Rule? What were the circumstances?"
The court also stated that floor test is the only way to prove the majority. "Democratically-elected Houses should not be demolished in such a fashion. Floor test is the only test to prove the majority," the Bench observed.
Justice VK Bisht said, "In view of the consent of the parties that the writ petition be posted to 06-04-2016 for being disposed of finally, we direct that the order, which is impugned in these appeals will be kept in abeyance till 07-04-2016."
On 28 March A single judge bench had asked Harish Rawat to go through a floor test in the Assembly
On 27 March, Chief Minister Harish Rawat moved the High Court challenging the Centre's decision to impose President's Rule citing a "breakdown of Constitutional machinery" in the state.
The Centre will file its affidavit on why it invoked Article 356 while Harish Rawat's legal team will file a rejoined the next day after which the court would hold the final hearing on 7 April.
This comes as a major boost for the Centre that was left red faced after Justice UC Dhyani asked Harish Rawat to go for a floor test on 31 March.
Soon after the decision of the High Court, Rawat told reporters, "This decision is in the interest of our state, I hope court will do justice."
The BJP welcomed the decision and party leader Shrikant Sharma said, "The view of bench is important since the earlier order was filled with ambiguities. Because of Congress's internal strife, people of the state have to suffer."
Meanwhile, the hearing on the appeal filed by rebel Congress MLAs challenging their expulsion by the Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal will be heard on 1 April.
Justice Dhyani told the legal team representing these rebels that he has already passed an interim order on Tuesday allowing them to vote during the floor test.
Six Congress rebels had approached the court on Wednesday asking the court whether their expulsion is valid since the decision was taken after the Centre had invoked President's Rule in the state.