Government on Friday denied claims made by Uttrakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi that he had been asked to quit and said an “appropriate response” will be filed before Supreme Court soon.
Talking said after touring flood-affected areas of Uttar Pradesh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “there was no move to remove him. He holds the Constitutional post with the pleasure of the President.”
The statement from the Minister came a day after the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre on the Uttarakhand Governor’s plea challenging Narendra Modi government’s moves to ease him out of office, bringing the controversy over removal of UPA-appointed Governors under judicial lens.
The apex court had also issued notice to Home Secretary Anil Goswami who had allegedly threatened Governor Qureshi to resign from the post or face removal by Centre. However, the Home Minister maintained that no pressure was exerted for Qureshi’s removal and said that a response will be filed before the apex court soon.
The Government will be filing an “appropriate reply to the Supreme Court” in response to Aziz’s decision to approach the apex court, he said.
Qureshi is the first Governor to move Supreme Court against the Modi government.
Earlier, the NDA government had sacked Mizoram Governor 87-year-old Kamla Beniwal, who had served in Gujarat earlier and had a running battle with Narendra Modi when he was the state’s Chief Minister. Virendra Kataria, a former Congress leader, was also sacked as Puducherry Lt Governor last month.
Four other Governors — M K Narayanan (West Bengal), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland), B L Joshi (UP) and Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh) had put in their papers apparently after they were telephoned by the Union Home Secretary.
Two former Law Ministers –Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid — had termed Home Secretary’s calls to the Governor as unconstitutional as Quereshi had taken charge of the office on May 15, 2012 for a tenure of five years.
A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha had granted six weeks time to Centre and Goswami to file their response on the allegation levelled by the Governor and referred the case to five-judge Constitution bench observing that interpretation of Article 156 (Term of office of Governor) is involved.
Qureshi had said in his petition that Centre and the Home Secretary should be asked on whose behest he was threatened and urged the court to “reprimand and pass strictures against such person(s)”.
Qureshi said in his plea that after NDA government came to power at the Centre, Goswami had called him on July 30 and asked him to tender resignation and made it clear that he will be removed from office if he does not step down.
On August 2, Qureshi handed over in person his explanation to the President in a confidential communication and similar intimation was also made to the Home Minister, the petition said, adding that the copies of the communication is also filed in a sealed envelope for court’s perusal.
The Governor alleged in his petition that Goswami again called him on August 8 insisting that he resign.