While Uttarakhand High Court has quashed Centre’s order to impose President’s rule in the state, three more writ petitions on the issue are pending before it. These relate to promulgation of an ordinance by Centre on March 31 and to the Speaker’s move to disqualify nine Congress MLAs.
While one of these will be heard by the bench of Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bist that set aside the order to impose President’s rule, the other two would be heard by a single-judge bench.
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The plea before the bench of Chief Justice Joseph and Justice Bist has been filed by deposed CM Harish Rawat and deals with Centre’s promulgation of an ordinance, authorising expenditure in the state. Through this plea, the court would also look into the controversy over the passage of Appropriation Bill, a money bill, in Assembly on March 18. The Centre has alleged that the appropriation bill was not passed in accordance with law. It has alleged that the Speaker did not allow division of votes sought by 35 legislators (26 from BJP and 9 from Congress). It has said that since the Speaker didn’t allow the majority to prevail, the Rawat government failed a floor test, warranting imposition of President’s rule — passage of a money bill is a test of the support a government enjoys in Assembly. Congress, meanwhile, has argued that the appropriation bill was passed through a voice vote and in accordance with law.
Rawat’s counsel, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, has submitted his arguments before the bench. The court has not yet fixed a date for the next hearing.
Two writ petitions filed before the single bench of Justice U C Dhyani relate to the Speaker’s decision to disqualify nine rebel Congress MLAs under anti-defection law. While one of them has been filed by three rebel MLAs, the other has been filed by the remaining rebel legislators. The petitions have been clubbed together.
The petitioners have challenged the notice issued by the Speaker on March 19 and his decision to disqualify them on March 27. They have also sought directions of court to allow them to participate in House proceedings.
The single bench would resume hearing this matter from Saturday. The matter was earlier adjourned as the court sought reply from the Speaker and rejoinder from petitioners on his reply.
On Thursday, the bench of Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bist had observed that the nine rebel MLAs had committed a “constitutional sin” by defecting.
The bench had, however, said its observations must “not (be) treated as anything to trammel the court (the single-judge bench) that is considering their disqualification… the court (single-judge bench) will take an independent decision based on the material before it and by applying its mind.”