JUSTIFYING THE promulgation of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday that there was “no better example for invoking Article 356 of the Constitution”.
Jaitley, who was speaking to the media shortly after the imposition of President’s Rule in the state, said there were “cogent, relevant and extremely important grounds” on which the Union Cabinet decided to make a recommendation to the President to this effect Saturday night. He said Harish Rawat had been running an “unconstitutional and immoral” government since March 18 when he lost the majority in the Assembly. “There was a complete breakdown of the Constitution in Uttarakhand,” he said.
Jaitley referred to the chain of events on March 18 and pointed out that in the 71-member Assembly, 67 members, excluding the Speaker, were present, of whom 35 wanted a division of votes on the Appropriation Bill. The division of votes, he said, was sought in writing in advance by the 35 members who also voted against the Bill. However, Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal showed the legislation as passed. “That was the first violation of Constitution,” he said.
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Governor K K Paul, according to Jaitley, had also mentioned that he had “serious doubts” over what had happened in the Assembly on March 18 and said that his report had played a key role in the Cabinet’s decision.
Jaitley said that the Appropriation Bill — which the Speaker maintained had been passed by a voice vote — was never sent to the Governor for approval and hence the government would have no money to spend from April 1. The Centre will have to address this issue also within the three remaining days of this month, he said.
In an apparent reference to the sting operation against Rawat, he said, “This is the first time that there is hard evidence about horse- trading by a CM, who has been caught on camera.” Besides, he said, there was an attempt to alter the composition of the House through discriminatory use of the anti-defection law by the Speaker with regard to his actions against rebel Congress MLAs.
He said the Governor had repeatedly asked the Chief Minister to convene the Assembly in two or three days for a floor test, but he deliberately prolonged it by insisting that he would do so only on March 28. “He (Rawat) wanted to use the time period for allurement, horse-trading to change the composition of the House… During each of the nine days, provisions of the Constitution were violated,” Jaitley said.