Court gives Congress chance to prove Uttarakhand majority
Dehradun, March 29 (IANS) The Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday ordered a floor test in the assembly on Thursday and gave ousted chief minister Harish Rawat a chance to prove his legislative majority in the hill state that is under President’s Rule.
Uttarakhand came under President’s Rule on Sunday, a day before Rawat was to prove his majority in the house on Monday.
Hearing a petition by Rawat, the court also said that all nine Congress rebels who were disqualified by the speaker will be allowed to take part in the vote. It said the result of the voting should be presented to the court on Friday. The court has ordered a court registrar to oversee the vote in the assembly.
Congress spokesperson and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the ruling followed two days of extensive arguments.
“The high court accepts the point that despite President’s Rule there is enough scope for judicial review to allow a floor test to take place,” he told the media, “This was asked by us.”
“Mere horse trading allegations will not justify President’s Rule and stop floor test,” he added.
He said the court has implemented what the governor had said thrice and what the chief minister has said twice.
Singhvi said the court has allowed the disqualified Congress legislators to take part in the voting but their vote would be taken into consideration separately.
A stunnned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it was no victory for the Congress but described as “unprecedented” the court verdict to allow floor test during President’s Rule.
“To order something like this during President’s Rule is unprecedented,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
The Uttarakhan political crisis began when nine Congress legislators, including former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, whom Rawat replaced, revolted against the chief minister and turned to the BJP.
On March 18, crisis worsened when the assembly passed the budget Appropriation Bill by voice vote even as more than half the members in the house sought a division, which would have led to recorded voting. The rebel Congress lawmakers supported the BJP’s demand for the division. Speaker Govind Kunjwal declined the request.
Amid BJP cries that Rawat did not enjoy majority in the house of 70 members, the speaker asked the government to prove its majority on Monday.
The Congress rebel lawmakers were disqualified on Saturday and the BJP-led central government imposed President’s Rule a day later.