HOURS AFTER the BJP government imposed President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, the Congress made it clear that it would challenge the decision in court. The party termed the move as murder of democracy and said it would cast a shadow on the working of the second half of the Budget Session of Parliament. The party said it would take up the issue in Parliament and expected support from all opposition parties.
“Courts are still there in India. We will approach courts and file a petition demanding striking down of the imposition of the President’s Rule. We will approach the High Court,” said senior Congress leader and veteran lawyer Kapil Sibal. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand amounts to “murder” of democracy and the day was a “black day” for the country.
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Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said the Uttarakhand Assembly has been kept in suspended animation “to propagate and perpetuate horse-trading of MLAs with active abetment and conspiracy of BJP leadership”.
The Congress said the Centre hurriedly decided to impose President’s Rule in Uttarakhand because it had become clear that the Harish Rawat government would prove its majority in the Assembly on Monday after the Speaker disqualified the membership of nine Congress rebels under anti-defection law.
“They say Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Par woh Bharat Mata ki bhay se desh chalana chahte hain. People who have taken oath on Constitution are violating the same Constitution. This has never happened in the history of Independent India. I don’t want to say anything about those in the cabinet who do not understand law. The people of the country will not pardon those in the cabinet who know law,” Sibal said.
He said the nine Congress rebels had signed on a joint memorandum submitted to the Governor along with BJP MLAs on the letter head of the Leader of the Opposition in the Uttarakhand Assembly, seeking dismissal of the Rawat government, which was a very clear violation of 10th schedule on disqualification. “That amounts to voluntarily giving up membership of the party under 2 1(A) of the tenth schedule,” he said.
Sibal pointed out that the petition of the rebels against disqualification was rejected by the high court. “The writing on the wall had become clear that they would be disqualified and that the Harish Rawat government will prove majority. Then it was decided that President’s Rule should be imposed… Their case surely attracts disqualification,” he said.
Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, “Can any responsible Prime Minister do this. Can you even imagine. The Governor says floor test should be on Monday and on Sunday they impose President’s Rule. Is there any constitutional or law and order breakdown in Uttarakhand. Have there been riots? They cite a sting operation… There have been thousands of stings against them… The Finance Minister says Budget was not passed. Now the Finance Minister of the country will decide whether the Budget has been passed in an assembly. What authority does he have?”
Surjewala said the Supreme Court in the S R Bommai case categorically held that “once floor test has been ordered, Governor cannot recommend President’s Rule”. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the BJP has re-enacted the script which it enacted in Arunachal Pradesh. “It is a blatant and brazen display of authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-constitution mindset of the Modi government,” he said.