President’s Rule lifted, Rawat to be CM again

The moment it is revoked, go in and take charge, says AG

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:29 am IST

Published - May 11, 2016 12:33 pm IST - New Delhi

Deposed Chief Minister Harish Rawat at the Congress office in Dehradun after the end of the crucial Uttarakhand Assembly floor test on Tuesday.

Deposed Chief Minister Harish Rawat at the Congress office in Dehradun after the end of the crucial Uttarakhand Assembly floor test on Tuesday.

Making a “graceful” exit from Uttarakhand, the Centre conceded on Wednesday in the Supreme Court that deposed Chief Minister Harish Rawat won the trust vote conducted on May 10. President’s rule in the State was revoked later in the day.

The Centre said Mr. Rawat, who had led the Congress-led government before his ouster on March 27, is to be restored as CM the very moment President’s rule is revoked. “You can wait at the gate. The moment it is revoked, go in and take charge,” Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi told Mr. Rawat’s lawyers in an aside during the court hearing.

The offer from Mr. Rohatgi came even before a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and S.K. Singh opened the sealed cover containing the results of the floor test. The Attorney-General’s open admission of Mr. Rawat’s 33-28 victory against the BJP in the trust vote won him plaudits from senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi for being “very, very fair.”

‘Wedded to democracy’

The Bench, granting the Centre liberty to revoke President’s rule, recorded in its order that the “Centre is wedded to democracy.”

“It is clear from the news that an orderly voting took place in the Assembly on May 10. It is clear that Respondent 1 [Rawat] won a majority. We will revoke the order of proclamation of President’s rule today itself and this assurance is from the highest quarters,” Mr. Rohatgi submitted at the very beginning of the hearing.

Second floor test a possibility: SC

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and S.K. Singh on Wednesday clarified that the petition filed by former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on the larger question of the constitution-ality of proclamation of President’s rule on March 27 would be kept alive and judicially reviewed.

The court would also separately hear the pending petitions of nine dissident Congress MLAs who had challenged their disqualification by the Speaker for ‘horse-trading.’

It had refused to stay their disqualification, due to which they were unable to vote in the decisive apex court-ordered floor test. Had they voted, the numbers would have favoured the BJP in the Assembly in the trust vote.

The court indicated that in case it decides the petitions in favour of the disqualified MLAs, a second floor test may be a possibility.

“If this man [Rawat] becomes Chief Minister now and supposing we set aside the disqualification of the MLAs in the future, there will have to be another floor test,” Justice Misra observed.

Challenges disqualification

The court proceedings took an interesting turn when one of the disqualified MLAs, Shaila Rani Rawat, stood up to challenge the Speaker’s powers to disqualify her.

Ms. Rawat, represented by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, said President’s rule was proclaimed on May 27 morning and the MLAs were disqualified in the evening.

“Once the President’s rule has set in, the Speaker had no power to disqualify these nine MLAs,” Mr. Sharma said, saying his client could not bring this point to the attention of the court as she was fighting the Uttarakhand forest fire. Though it asked Ms. Rawat “why did you not come before us with this point,” the Bench dismissed her writ petition.

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