Centre ‘introducing chaos’: HC

Bench raps Union government for ‘haste’ in decision to impose President’s Rule in the State

Updated - November 17, 2021 05:12 am IST

Published - April 20, 2016 12:45 am IST - Nainital (Uttarakhand):

A Division Bench of the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital, hearing the case on the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, on Tuesday objected to the Centre’s “haste” and said the Centre was “introducing chaos” by intruding into the State’s affairs.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice K. M. Joseph and Justice V. K. Bisht questioned the “haste” with which the Union Cabinet held a meeting in New Delhi, on March 26, where it decided on bringing the State under President’s Rule.

Questions timing

“All hasty decisions are not necessarily absurd but the timing of the decision [to impose President’s Rule] shows that they had already made up their mind on what would unfold [in the Uttarakhand Assembly] on March 27 and March 28 [had the floor test been allowed to be conducted on March 28],” Chief Justice Joseph said. Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the State in the Court, while arguing that the President was right in invoking Article 356, also spoke of the sting operation video on Mr. Rawat where he is shown attempting horse-trading.

However, the Bench held that “Even if someone has done a sting operation [on Mr. Rawat] …You still have to go for a floor test.”

The Centre also argued that that Mr. Rawat, as an “obligation”, should have resigned on March 18, as he did not have the confidence of a majority of the MLAs in the Assembly on that day.

However, emphasising the importance of a floor test for upholding democracy, the Bench said, “Failing of Money Bill obliges the Chief Ministers to resign, but if they don’t resign then you either bring a no confidence motion or the Chief Minister is asked to seek confidence through a floor test.”

The Bench observed that on many occasions governments don’t resign. “They’ve developed a thick skin. If they don’t resign then that’s not a matter to be seen by the President.” The Centre argued that President’s Rule, under which the Assembly has been placed in suspended animation, would last “only for two months.”

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, the Centre’s counsel in the case, on Tuesday, said, “President’s Rule and suspended animation will last only for two months. It's a temporary freeze. It’ll be taken up in the Parliament. After that there will be a floor test and the Congress government might return [after two months].”

However, Chief Justice Joseph said, “You are introducing chaos…. In two months you are taking back the power of a government which the people had voted to power.” The Chief Justice also observed that if the President took notice of the ongoing corruption in governments then “no government would last for five minutes.”

Pointing to the hasty decision taken by the Union government, and suggesting that its reasons were not sufficient for the imposition of President’s Rule, the Bench stated that considering the Centre’s arguments, it would go “with a magnifying lens seeing what’s going wrong in each Assembly” so that it can impose President’s Rule.

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