Rawat moves High Court against imposition of Prez rule


Dehradun/New Delhi, March 29: Congress on Monday legally challenged the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand as it sparred with BJP accusing  the Centre of toppling its  government when the Governor had given time to the Chief Minister to prove his majority in the Assembly.

However, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley put the blame squarely on the Congress for the “Constitutional crisis” in the state and accused the Speaker of declaring as passed a “defeated” appropriation bill and then failing to certify the “falsehood”.

“This leaves the state without any approved financial expenditure with effect from 1st April, 2015,” he wrote in a “Facebook” blog titled “A State without a Budget”.

The dislodged Chief Minister today moved the Uttarakhand High Court in Nainital questioning the Centre’s decision bringing the hill state under President’s rule.

Rawat’s petition came up before the single bench of Justice U C Dhyani, who after hearing both sides, said the matter would be taken up again on Tuesday. It was filed on Rawat’s behalf by senior Supreme Court counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Singhvi contended that that circumstances were not suitable for invoking Art 356 of the constitution under which the government was sacked and the Assembly kept under suspended animation.

Meanwhile, Congress leader and party spokesman Manish Tewari accused the Centre of “murdering democracy” by imposing President’s rule in a second Congress-ruled state within two months.

“I would like to point out that when the Governor had given time to Chief Minister for a floor test, when every decision of Supreme Court on (SR) Bommai says that a floor test is the only way to test the majority of a government, why did the Prime Minister and his Cabinet unceremoniously, almost through a coup, topple the government in Uttarakhand?” he asked.

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He refused to be drawn into judging President Pranab Mukherjee’s decision to approve the NDA government’s recommendation to impose Central Rule in Uttarakhand, saying it should be left to “his wisdom”.

“The President is bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers. The Constitutional position on that is fairly clear,” he said.

In his blog, the Finance Minister attacked the Speaker saying he was murdering democracy by first declaring a Budget rejected by majority MLAs as passed and then by disqualifying MLAs even after Assembly was put under suspended animation.

“After the Assembly has been put under suspended animation and the decision has been made public, the Speaker has decided to disqualify some Members. The constitutional breakdown has been compounded further by this action,” he said.

He said the Congress government in the state was reduced to minority on March 18 when 35 MLAs in the Assembly voted against the Appropriation Bill and 32 in favour. These 35 MLAs comprised 27 from the BJP and the rest were rebel Congress legislators.

“On 18th March the majority was declared to be a minority and vice versa, and on 27th March the composition of the House was attempted to be changed in violation of the Constitution to convert a minority into a majority.

“This is an unprecedented case of a Speaker declaring a failed Appropriation Bill as passed and then failing to certify falsehood. This leaves the State without any approved financial expenditure with effect from 1st April 2016,” he said.

Stating that there was no better evidence of a breakdown of Constitution than this, he said, “The Congress Government of Uttarakhand was murdering democracy every day from the 18th of March till the 27th of March. The proceedings of the Assembly circulated in writing establish the charge that a division was asked for and yet it was claimed that the Appropriation Bill has been passed without a vote,” he said.

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Stating that there were strong facts to suggest that the Appropriation Bill was actually defeated, he said as a consequence, the Government had to resign.

“Two further consequences flow out of this. Firstly, the Appropriation Bill sanctioning expenditure from 1st April 2016 was not approved and, secondly, if the  Appropriation Bill was defeated, the continuation of the Government subsequent to 18th March 2016 is unconstitutional,” he said.

The Minister said till date neither the Chief Minister nor the Speaker has forwarded a certified copy of the Appropriation Bill to the Governor.

“Obviously, there is no assent of the Governor to the Appropriation Bill.  All facts surrounding the alleged discussion and passage of the Appropriation Bill clearly indicate its non-passage. There is a cloud and a serious doubt about the Appropriation Bill. There is a complete breakdown of the Constitutional machinery in as much as the Government, which should have resigned on the 18th of March with the failure of Appropriation Bill, has decided to continue,” he said.

Jaitley said till today there is no Appropriation Bill certified by the Speaker which has received assent of the Governor.

“If it is Speaker’s case that the rebels voted in favour of the Appropriation Bill and, hence, it has been passed, then the rebels could not have been disqualified.”

Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who has accused the Modi dispensation of trying to “destabilise and topple” his government by using central agencies, Monday met Congress President Sonia Gandhi against the backdrop of President’s Rule being imposed in party-ruled Uttarakhand.

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On its part, the BJP refuted Singh’s allegations, saying this was to get “cheap sympathy”. Singh has been so far avoiding going to jail but he can “go there any time”, it said.


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