Test for BJP, Cong as hearing resumes in U’khand HC

RSTV Bureau
Dehradun: Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat addressing a presser at Dehradun, March 29, 2016. Photo - PTI

Dehradun: Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat addressing a presser at Dehradun, March 29, 2016.
Photo – PTI

The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday rejected Centre’s submission for deferring the hearing on former Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s plea challenging the imposition of President’s rule in the state. The plea contesting Rawat’s claims of the passage of Appropriation Bill by the state legislative assembly was moved by the Centre soon after the High Court resumed its hearing on the issue.

Central government’s law officers — ASG Tushar Mehta and ASG Maninder Singh – sought an adjournment on the ground that issue of alleged passage of appropriation bill by the state assembly brings in completely new facts and needed to be responded to as they deal with the root of the case.

But the division bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice VK Bisht rejected the plea, instead asking Centre to file its response latest by Thursday.

“We are not going to adjourn it. If you want to file a response then file it during the day or by tomorrow,” the bench said, assuring the law officers that it would not deal with the issue till Centre files its response.

The bench, however, made clear that it will go ahead with the hearing of the case. After lengthy arguments throughout the day, hearing was adjourned till Thursday.

The division bench of Uttarakhand High Court had last week stayed the single bench’s interim order allowing floor test in state assembly on March 31 after former CM Harish Rawat moved against the Centre’s promulgation of President’s Rule, adjourning the matter to be resumed today.

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 had claimed there was a breakdown of governance in the state given rebellion within the ruling party.

Before the crisis unfolded, the Congress had 36 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly. The ruling party also has the support of 6 members of the Progressive Democratic Front, while opposition BJP has 28 MLAs.

Nine MLAs of the Congress party, including former CM Vijay Bahuguna and senior minister Harak Singh Rawat, had rebelled on March 18 leading to political crises in the state. Soon after, the BJP paraded nine Congress rebel along with their 26 MLAs before the Governor claiming numbers on its part. But Governor KK Paul asked Harish Rawat to prove his majority on March 28.

Besides, the plea challenging President’s rule in the state, the Uttarakhand HC is also hearing the connected issue on the fate of nine Congress rebel MLAs disqualified by the Speaker.