Uttarakhand floor test on May 10; Cong. rebels can't vote

The floor test will be conducted between 11 a.m.and 1 p.m.; President's rule will be back in operation immediately after that.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:29 am IST

Published - May 06, 2016 02:07 pm IST - New Delhi

The Uttarakhand Assembly in Dehradun.

The Uttarakhand Assembly in Dehradun.

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered a floor test in the Uttarakhand Assembly on May 10 for deposed Congress Chief Minister Harish Rawat to prove his numbers and “end the controversy over the proclamation of President’s rule in the State.”

It held that the nine Congress MLAs disqualified by the Speaker would not be able to vote.

The hearing before a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh saw the Centre, represented by Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, accede to a floor test in the “next couple of days.”

“The learned Attorney-General said the Centre has no objection to a floor test,” the Bench underscored, while ordering that President’s rule, imposed on March 27, be lifted for the duration of the special session. The vote of confidence will be conducted between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

The floor test will be the single item on the agenda for the House on that day.

‘No status quo ante’

However, the apex court clarified that there would be no “status quo ante” for Mr. Rawat. This means that Mr. Rawat would not be automatically restored as Chief Minister when President’s rule is lifted for the duration of the test.

He would have to prove he had the numbers to return as Chief Minister.

In case former Chief Minister Harish Rawat is unable to prove his majority on the floor of the Uttarakhand Assembly on May 10, the baton would go to the Governor to invite the leader of the majority group to form a new government.

The Supreme Court, which ordered on Friday the holding of a floor test, clarified that it was not a “composite” one between two rival parties. It was only for the limited purpose for Mr. Rawat to prove his majority in the House.

Division of votes

The Bench ordered the vote of confidence motion to be decided by division of votes in the Assembly. It held that the nine Congress MLAs disqualified by the Speaker would not be able to cast their vote as long as their disqualification remains.

“As of today, rightly or wrongly, you are disqualified, that too on the decision of the Speaker. The challenge against your disqualification is pending in the High Court. We are passing an order based on the Attorney-General’s submission to have a floor test... But once disqualified, we cannot permit you to vote... We will not say anything more,” Justice Misra addressed senior advocate C.A. Sundaram, appearing for the nine dissident MLAs.

The court, however, said its observations in the order should not prejudice their pending case in the HC.

Explaining the modalities of the floor test, the court said the confidence vote will be put up for motion and those who are in favour will sit on one side and those against will sit on the other.

They will then raise their hands one by one to show their position and this would be recorded by the Principal Secretary, Legislative Assembly, who shall be present through the floor test and be responsible for the conduct of the proceedings in a fair and peaceful manner.

No to observer plan

Though the Attorney-General strongly advocated an observer – a retired Chief Election Commissioner – to be appointed to monitor the proceedings, the court agreed with Mr. Rawat’s counsel, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, A.M. Singhvi and Rajeev Dhawan, that an “outsider” should not be permitted in the House.

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