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SC orders Uttarakhand floor test on May 10; disqualified rebel Cong MLAs cannot vote [Read Order]

LiveLaw News Network
6 May 2016 8:48 AM GMT
SC orders Uttarakhand floor test on May 10; disqualified rebel Cong MLAs cannot vote [Read Order]
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The Supreme Court today ordered a floor test monitored by it in Uttarakhand assembly to end the constitutional impasse after the Centre agreed to it.

A special session of the assembly will be convened on May 10 for holding the floor test and entire proceedings will be videographed, a bench headed by justice Dipak Misra ruled.

The bench said president's rule will be lifted in the state between 11 AM and 1PM to enable the floor test

Significantly the court did not allow nine disqualified rebel Congress MLAs to vote which is a big boost to ousted chief minister Harish Rawat.

The court said a special session be summoned for May 10 between 11 AM to 1 PM to conduct singular agenda of vote of confidence motion. “Nothing else shall be discussed in the Assembly and proceedings there shall be absolutely peaceful and without any disturbance. All officials of Assembly to follow in letter and spirit the procedure and there shall not be any kind of deviation. We direct Chief Secretary, state DGP to see that all qualified members participate, attend the proceedings in the Assembly, without any hindrance. It said during the trust vote, those in favour of motion will sit on one side of the House and those against on other side.The Principal Secretary, Legislative Assembly, shall see that the voting is peaceful and recorded. Members voting in favour of motion shall singularly vote and raise hand one by one and that will be counted by Principal Secretary, Assembly, it said

Earlier Centre conveyed to the Supreme Court that it is agreeable to conduct of a floor test in Uttarakhand.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi after making the submission however told a bench headed by justice Dipak Misra that the court must appoint an observer to oversee the floor test.

The Centre had on May 4 taken a big U-turn in the case saying it was “seriously considering” holding of floor test immediately as suggested repeatedly by the bench . AG had told the bench that he will take further instructions in this regard and get back today.

It is to be noted that Rohatgi had earlier flatly rejected the proposal when it was put forth by the bench headed by justice Dipak Misra.

The court had earlier said “floor test is the ultimate test” to decide who is in power, and asked the Centre to consider having a trust vote in the Assembly to determine whether the Harish Rawat-led Congress gover nment has a majority.

The court has umpteen times made it clear that it is ready to temporarily suspend President’s Rule to facilitate the floor test.

“Both horse trading and airing of sting operation create a dent in democracy. That is why we said that a floor test is the ultimate test,” Justice Misra had observed earlier. The Bench had suggested that a floor test be conducted immediately after lifting President’s Rule for three days. The results of the exercise could be submitted in court, it had proposed.

Rejecting proposal for a floor test earlier, Rohatgi had said: “There cannot be a President's Rule and a floor test at the same time,”

On April 27 in a setback to the ousted Harish Rawat government, the Supreme Court had said the stay on the Uttarakhand High Court order on President’s rule in Uttarakhand would continue.

The Uttarakhand HC Bench comprising of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice V.K.Bist had held that in view of Principles laid down in Bommai’s case and in Rameshwar Prasad’s case, it would be a case, where there was no warrant for a legitimate inference being drawn from the facts that the floor test should be avoided and, instead, the draconian provisions of Article 356 should be invoked.

The Supreme Court had restored President’s Rule on April 22 barely a day after the state High Court quashed the Centre’s decision and restored the Harish Rawat-led Congress government.

The SC bench admitted the Centre’s challenge to the High Court decision and brought back President’s rule in the State for the simple reason that the judgment, dictated on April 21 by Uttarakhand Chief Justice K.M. Joseph in open court, was not yet available in the public domain.

The High Court had on April 21 quashed the order of the Central government that had put the State under President’s Rule on March 27.

Deciding that the Congress shall return to power, the Division Bench of the Court also ordered that a floor test must be held in theUttarakhand Assembly on April 29 where former Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s claim of having majority support shall be put to test.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice V.K. Bisht had decided to reserve the verdict for later, but taking the apprehensions of Rawat’s counsel into consideration where it was being feared that the Central Government might revoke President’s Rule and try and get the BJP to form government in the State before the Court’s final verdict in the case, the Bench took the decisions on quashing Presidential Proclamation on Thursday itself.

Uttarakhand Chief Justice Joseph said that the Court was "pained" by the Centre's actions in the case on imposition of President's Rule inUttarakhand where the Centre was acting like a "private party". He said that the Central government, which should be impartial, was acting like a "private party."

“We are pained that the Central government can behave like this. How can you think of playing with the Court?" Chief Justice Joseph said.

Questioning the Centre over planning to attempt revoking President's Rule before court's final verdict, Chief Justice Joseph slammed the Centre for such attempts. The Chief Justice said, "If they [the Centre] revoke Article 356 and try and form a government... What is it but a travesty of justice?"

Read the order here.

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