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Uttarakhand Governor questions Centre’s nudge

The Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre on Thursday on a writ petition filed by Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi challenging an oral communication from Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami asking him to quit or face dismissal.

A Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman gave the Centre six weeks to respond to the notice.

The Chief Justice said since interpretation of Article 156 of the Constitution (relating to the pleasure of the President in the removal of a Governor) was involved, a five-judge Constitution Bench would hear the matter. The pronouncement came after hearing former Law Ministers Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid, who assailed the role of the Home Secretary.

Mr. Sibal said that on July 30, the Home Secretary called up the Governor and asked him to resign, telling Mr. Qureshi that he would otherwise be dismissed. On August 2, Mr. Qureshi, in a confidential communication, handed in person his detailed explanation to President Pranab Mukherjee. Home Minister Rajnath Singh was similarly informed. On August 5, the Home Secretary again called up Mr. Qureshi and asked him to resign.

Mr. Sibal argued that since the Governor held the office at the “pleasure” of the President, the Home Secretary could not ask him to resign. He was not seeking any interim relief, but wanted the court to lay down the procedure for the appointment of Governors and interpretation of Article 156.

Initially, the Chief Justice told Mr. Sibal that in the present case, the President or the Prime Minister could not directly convey the “displeasure” to the Governor and as somebody should convey it, the Home Secretary did so. However, Mr. Sibal maintained that the Home Secretary had no role to play, and the court should decide the procedure to be adopted.

Petition asks Supreme Court to lay down procedure for appointment of Governors

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