Nainital: The Nainital high court on Monday cautioned the Union government for treading on a dangerous path by imposing President’s rule in Uttarakhand.
In scathing remarks, the double judge bench of Nainital high court led by chief justice K M Jospeh observed, “This colours our mind. Can you remove a government based on a solitary incident and the government, which is in its fifth year? Root of the matter is you are cutting at root of democracy. Interference in the affairs of states is not to be seen lightly, emergency power should be used in extraordinary cases.”
The court reminded the Union government that the “Governor is not an agent of the Centre” and the “interference in the state’s affairs is not be seen lightly”.
The court asked, if it was not “totally extraneous” for the Union government to be concerned over disqualification of nine rebel MLAs and ‘interfere’ in the affairs of the state which is done only in “extraordinary instances”?
The court’s observation came while hearing former chief minister Harish Rawat’s petition challenging President’s rule in Uttarakhand imposed in controversial circumstances last month.
The high court may give a decision after summing up of Centre’s arguments by attorney general Mukul Rohtagi on Tuesday.
The Central government had imposed President’s Rule in Uttarakhand on March 27, a day before governor had asked the chief minister to prove his majority in the state Assembly.
The court also said, “Can the Centre topple a democratically elected government in its fifth year? It is the Governor who must call the shots. He is not an agent of the Centre. He had taken a call to ask for a floor test.”
Defending its decision, Centre filed an affidavit in court claiming that the constitutional machinery had broken down in the state.
The central government has submitted eight reports to the court including Governor KK Paul’s report to the President. Rohtagi argued that the state budget was never passed in the assembly and Speaker Govind Kunjwal had “misused his powers” by declaring a failed finance bill passed and did not allow voting on the bill despite members asking for it.
To this the court asked, “What is passing through our mind is, is it the lookout of the Central government as to what would have happened on March 28 (date given for the floor test) in view of the changed composition and in view of the nine ousted MLAs?”
“Will it not be totally extraneous for Central government, which is ruled by another political party, to be concerned by changed composition?” the bench asked Rohatgi.
To this Rohatgi contended that the Speaker’s decision of not allowing 35 MLAs to vote on their demand for division on introduction of money bill amounted to “destroying democracy” as the 35 constituted the majority view.
He also alleged that state CM Harish Rawat and the Speaker were “in cahoots” to scuttle the demand for division and there has been “twisting of facts to show division occurred after passage of Bill.”