Can a floor test be held in U’khand?… SC asks Centre

Rajat Kain

Dehradun:  Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat during the Cabinet Meeting in Dehradun.  Photo - PTI

Dehradun: Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat during the Cabinet Meeting in Dehradun.
Photo – PTI

Supreme Court wants to know from the Centre whether a floor test could be held in Uttarakhand under its supervision under the current circumstances. Resuming hearing on Centre’s petition against Nainital High Court order of quashing the President’s rule, the bench asked Attorney General to apprise court of Centre’s response in this regard.

The matter will now resume on Wednesday.

Supreme Court had last week stayed the High Court order pending the disposal of matter at their end, thus, bringing back Uttarakhand under the President’s rule.

Extending interim stay on Nainital High Court’s order of quashing the President’s rule, the top court had imposed a rider that the Centre cannot revoke President’s rule till the matter is pending before it. Prior to the Supreme Court’s interim order, Harish Rawat was reinstated as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and was slated to take a floor test on April 29.

During the brief hearing last week, the bench framed few questions before the Union government, which are expected to be replied by the Centre in the course of hearing.

Posing questions before the Centre, the bench of Justice Dipak Mishra and Justice SK Singh had asked “Could the Governor have sent the message in the present manner under Article 175 (2) for conducting floor test?,” and “Is disqualification of MLAs by the Speaker a relevant issue for the purposes of invoking President’s rule under Article 356”?

Stating that “Speaker is the master of the Assembly”, the court asked if proceedings in the Assembly can be considered by the President for imposing Central rule.

The bench also sought Centre’s answer to the question as to when the President’s role comes in picture with regard to Appropriation bill.

Earlier, Uttarakhand High Court division bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice VK Bist had set aside the President’s rule in the state, noting that President’s rule is a last resort and Article 356 was imposed “contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court”.

“Whatever material is submitted did not add up for a proclamation,” the division bench noted in its judgement quashing the President’s rule.

Uttarakhand was placed under President’s rule on March 27, a day before the incumbent Harish Rawat government was slated to go for the trust vote.

Defending its move to impose President’s rule, the Centre claimed there was a breakdown of governance in the state given rebellion within the ruling party and Rawat government’s failure to get Appropriation Bill passed. On its part, however, Congress party claimed that Appropriation Bill was passed by the voice vote.