In a major boost to ousted Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, the Supreme Court today dismissed the petition of the nine Congress MLAs challenging their disqualification from the Assembly which means they will not be able to vote in tomorrow’s crucial floor test which will be conducted to ascertain if Rawat enjoyed majority
Earlier in the day the Uttarakhand High Court had dismissed their plea against which they rushed to the Supreme Court.
The ruling, in effect, means that the MLAs will be not be able to enter the Assembly or cast their vote in the crucial floor test tomorrow.
A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and S.K. Singh said the pleas for interim relief, including a stay of their disqualification, would be considered on July 1
The Assembly has 70 elected MLAs and one nominated member. While the Congress has 36 MLAs, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 28 members. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has two, while there are three independent MLAs and one belongs to Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P). Nine Congress MLAs are rebels. Even the BJP has one rebel MLA.
With the Supreme Court ruling, the effective strength of Uttarakhand Assembly is down to 62 and the halfway mark is now 32. The Congress'effective strength is now 27 including Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal. The party has been claiming that it also enjoys the support of three independent and one UKD MLAs.
The stand of the BSP MLAs is not yet clear.
The Centre had on May 6 agreed for a Supreme Court-monitored floor test in Uttarakhand.
Earlier in the day Uttarakhand High Court dismissed the Petitions filed by Nine Congress rebel MLAs challenging the Speaker’s decision to disqualify them on the ground of alleged anti-party activities.
WHAT HC HAD SAID
Dismissing the Petitions Justice U C Dhyani held as follows; “The petitioners are clearly the victims of their own actions, probably not knowing fully well that it will take them so far. The Court is sympathetic to them. Such type of things happen when people assemble together. But, one should not forget that they are responsible law makers. They make the law, which is implemented by the Executive and is adjudicated by the Judiciary. The Fourth Estate, i.e. the Press, brings the actions of all wings of democracy to the notice of WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA.
This Court, subject to scrutiny of Speaker’s action on the principles of natural justice, therefore, holds that the ingredients of Paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution are met against the petitioners. 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. In a petition of this nature, a quasi-judicial authority, like the Speaker, should make an endeavour to decide the petition at an early date, although not in ‘undue haste’. This Court does not find, from the documents on record, that the Speaker passed the impugned order in ‘undue haste’. Any judicial or quasi-judicial authority will be criticized in any way, if he decides the lis before him early or if he sits over the matter for long. Striking a balance between the two is a golden rule”. The court also said that it is apparent on the basis of documents on record, in the instant case, that the opportunity to the liking of the petitioners was not granted by the Speaker, but that opportunity cannot be termed as ‘insufficient opportunity’. Justice U C Dhyani also made it clear that “at no point of time, this judgment shall come in the way of Speaker-party respondent no.1 to review his own order, in accordance with law, if the petitioners are so advised to move for the same, on any of the grounds available to them in law.”