Cong rebels disqualified by HC; No relief from SC too

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Rebel Congress MLAs with a BJP legislator at Uttarkhand Governor KK Paul's residence in the state capital Deharadun on March 19, 2016.

FILE: Rebel Congress MLAs with a BJP legislator at Uttarkhand Governor KK Paul’s residence in the state capital Deharadun on March 19, 2016.

Nine Congress rebel MLAs in Uttarakhand cannot participate in Tuesday’s floor test. After Uttarakhand High Court dismissed their petition against the disqualification ordered by the Assembly Speaker, the Supreme Court too refused to give them any interim relief. With the floor test slated to be held on Tuesday, the rebel legislators have now rushed Supreme Court seeking its intervention after HC had rejected their plea early on Monday.

Rejecting rebel MLAs plea, the single bench of Nainital High Court have upheld Speaker’s March 27 decision of disqualification after they have joined hands with the then opposition party BJP during the proceedings on the Appropriation Bill on March 18.

“By their conduct, it has been established that they have ‘voluntarily given up membership of their political party’, even if they have not become members of any other political party,” Justice U C Dhyani said in his 57-page judgement.

“If dissent is permitted to unfathomable limit, then it will amount to deserting the party and would also tantamount to voluntarily giving up his membership of such political party under Paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule,” Justice Dhyani noted further in his judgement.

The disqualification of the rebels is also bound to alter the number of Assembly, reducing its effective strength to 62 and 31 as the absolute majority mark, as one member remains nominated.

However, soon after the High Court order, the rebel MLAs filed their plea before the Supreme Court seeking immediate relief and participation in Tuesday’s floor test. The top court, while refusing to pass any interim order, has fixed the hearing on their plea against Uttarakhand HC order on May 12.

Supreme-Court-of-IndiaEarlier in its order last week, the Supreme Court had fixed the floor test proceedings for May 10 after the Centre nodded on the suggestion made by the bench of conducting a floor test. According to the modalities set by Supreme Court, President’s rule will be lifted for two hours on May 10 when the vote of confidence takes place.

Observing that former CM Harish Rawat should be allowed to seek vote of confidence on the floor of the Assembly, the Supreme Court bench of Justice Dipak Mishra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh also ordered that “if they (disqualified MLAs) have the same status” at the time of vote of confidence, they cannot participate in the House.

The state of Uttarakhand is under President’s rule since March 27. Though, Nainital High Court had quashed the centre’s proclamation of imposing a President’s rule, the apex court had put an interim stay on the High Court ruling pending hearing.

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.

Currently, BJP has 28 MLAs, Congress has 27, BSP has 02, while there are three independent MLAs and one belongs to Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P) lawmaker. Nine Congress MLAs are disqualified and one member is BJP rebel.

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.

(With inputs from the PTI)