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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Told Gov Qureshi to consider quitting: Home Secy to SC

Centre sacked only Beniwal as conduct was not compatible with office.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
October 15, 2014 3:44:36 am

Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that he had, with authority and justification, “suggested” to Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi that he should consider resigning on his own since his actions were not “behoving the status of the Governor” and showed the constitutional office in “very poor light” apart from “bringing it into disrespect”. However, Goswami said he had not threatened that Qureshi would be sacked if he did not resign.

Goswami, in his affidavit, said after he made this suggestion to Qureshi on August 5, the Governor wrote to the President, Prime Minister and Home Minister, saying he wanted time till September-end to complete some projects. However, Qureshi filed a petition in the apex court on August 14, challenging the government’s alleged move to make him quit the post.

Goswami said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had responded to Qureshi’s letter on August 24 — three days after the SC agreed to examine Qureshi’s petition.

As per the affidavit, Goswami phoned Qureshi in the wake of his “highly insensitive” statement that “created an uproar” and involved the Governor’s office in “needless controversies”. He was referring to Qureshi’s reported comment to ANI, a day before he demitted office as the Uttar Pradesh Governor, that incidents of rapes could not be stopped even if the entire police force or Army was deployed, and that only “divine intervention” could help check such crimes.

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“The Governor has shown extremely poor taste in commenting on this issue. The remarks — that only divine intervention may be able to stop crime against women — by a constitutional head of state are highly insensitive and are not expected of him. Moreover, far from reassuring people, they can unfortunately have a demoralising impact on society at large, as such an admission can further encourage potential offenders to act with impunity,” stated the affidavit.

Goswami said in view of such statements by Qureshi, he, as a nodal office between the central government and the Governor, was constrained to convey to him on July 30 that his remarks were unwarranted and also sought to inquire about the interview.

“I deny that I committed any illegality in bringing to the Governor’s notice that unhappy controversy created by him on a delicate issue, and that the entire authority of the state was diluted. The impact on the citizens can be well imagined if the highest authority in the state expresses that the authorities will never be able to stop rapes,” he added.

Seeking dismissal of the petition, Goswami said he had a “right to speak to the Governor” and there was nothing illegal in telling Qureshi that “he had committed severe indiscretions, bringing the office of the Governor into disrespect and at the same time diluting the authority of the state and its police powers.”

Asserting that since Qureshi’s “explanations” regarding his remarks were “not satisfactory”, the affidavit said Goswami suggested that he should consider resigning. However, it added that he had never made any threat that Qureshi would be sacked if he did not resign.

“The union government respects the judgement of the Supreme Court in B L Singhal case and hence had removed only one Governor, Dr Kamla (Beniwal), as her conduct was not compatible with the high constitutional office she occupied. In all other cases, the Governors had resigned on their own volition,” claimed the affidavit.

Goswami urged the court not to entertain Qureshi’s petition, saying it was his own conduct that gave rise to such a situation. He also said there was no need to have a five-judge Constitution bench adjudicate on his petition since the SC had amply clarified the law in B L Singhal’s case.

In Singhal’s case, the SC had ruled that Governors were not employees of the union government to warrant removal on the ground of loss of “confidence” in them. It had said that while no cause or reason be disclosed or assigned for removal by exercise of such prerogative power by the President, some valid cause should exist. It said that the President’s decision could be subjected to judicial review if the petitioner could show that the order was manifestly arbitrary or whimsical or mala fide.

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