President’s rule in Uttarakhand quashed by High Court

impositionNAINITAL: Dealing a major blow to Modi government, the Uttarakhand High Court today quashed the imposition of President’ rule in the state and revived the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat, who has been asked to prove his majority on April 29.

Coming down heavily on the Centre for the March 27 proclamation under Art 356, a division bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice K M Joseph said the imposition of the President’s rule was contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
Allowing ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s petition challenging the Presidential proclamation, the bench, also comprising Justice V K Bist, observed that the material considered for imposing President’s rule “has been found wanting”.

Upholding the disqualification of nine dissident Congress MLAs, the court said they have to pay the price of committing the “Constitutional sin” of defection by being disqualified.

Ordering restoration of the Rawat government, the court ordered the ousted Chief Minister to prove his government’s majority on the floor of the Assembly on April 29.

“In the present case which was set into motion with March 18 as day one and saw a proclamation being issued in less than ten days brings to the fore a situation where 356 has been used contrary to the law laid down by the apex court.

“The material (considered for the proclamation) has been found wanting and justifies judicial review interfering with the proclamation,” the court said. .
The court said “however, we must not be understood to have said that a solitary instance would not contribute for imposing 356. The proclamation of March 27 stands quashed.”

It said status quo ante on the day of proclamation, meaning thereby, restoration of the government led by petitioner (Rawat) will revive.

The court said, however, status being restored the petitioner must necessarily obtain a vote of confidence by holding a floor test on April 29.
The court also turned down an oral plea made by the Centre’s counsel for a stay on its judgement to move the Supreme Court against it.

The bench said we won’t stay our own judgment. “You can go to the Supreme Court and get a stay,” it said.

The issue came to the division bench of the court after a single judge ordered a floor test on March 28 following controversy over the passage of Appropriation Bill on March 18 with the BJP and dissident Congress MLAs claiming the money Bill had fallen and the government has lost its majority.

A day before the floor test was to have been held the Centre imposed President’s Rule on March 27 citing breakdown of Constitutional machinery as a ground.

Harish Rawat approached the division bench challenging the imposition of the President’s Rule. -PTI

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