Proclamation on President's Rule in Uttarakhand revoked, Rawat to return as CM

File photo of Harish Rawat
File photo of Harish Rawat
President Pranab Mukherjee has revoked the proclamation imposing President's Rule in Uttarakhand, paving the way for Congress leader Harish Rawat to assume office again as Chief Minister of the hill state after a gap of more than six weeks.
"The President of India on 11th May, 2016 revoked the Proclamation issued under the Article 356 of the Constitution on 27th March, 2016 in relation to the State of Uttarakhand," a press release from the Ministry of Home Affairs said here today.
Earlier yesterday, the Supreme Court had announced that Mr. Rawat had won the floor test conducted in the state legislative assembly on May 10, more than six weeks after the Centre imposed President's rule in the hill state on March 27.
The floor test in the assembly was held on Tuesday on the direction of the Supreme Court though the official result of the exercise to determine the legislative strength of the various parties in the house was declared only yesterday by the apex court.
The outcome is a major setback for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government at the Centre, which had imposed President's Rule in the hill state, stating that the Congress government headed by Mr. Rawat had lost its majority and was continuing in office illegally.
The Union Government's role in the entire affair was seen as an effort by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre to topple the Congress government in the state and try and replace it with a BJP-led government.
The Supreme Court had allowed Mr. Rawat to seek a trust vote in the Assembly on Tuesday after lifting President's Rule for a few hours to enable the exercise to be conducted as the latest chapter in a high-stakes political drama which began in early March when nine members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) belonging to the Congress rebelled against Mr. Rawat's leadership.
The nine MLAs were later disqualified by the Speaker of the Assembly and the Uttarakhand High Court on Monday made it clear that they could not vote in the floor test. The nine MLAs approached the Supreme Court within hours on Monday itself but failed to get any relief from the apex court, too.
The Supreme Court formally announced the result of the floor test after perusing the papers related to the proceedings in the assembly.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi urged the court to modify its order of April 22 to enable to the Union Government to take steps for revocation of the proclamation of President's Rule in the state. The court had earlier restrained the Centre from revoking President's Rule until the next date of hearing.
The court also said that, after President's Rule is revoked, Mr. Rawat could assume the office of the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.
"Keeping in view the prayer made by the learned Attorney General, we vary the order by granting liberty to the Union of India to revoke the proclamation of President's Rule in the State of Uttarakhand in course of the day. Needless to say, after the Presidential Rule is revoked, the 1st respondent can assume the office of the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand," the court had said yesterday.
"Two aspects we intend to clarify. One, the issue of justifiability of the proclamation of President's Rule that was made on 27.03.2016 which has been annulled by the impugned order passed by the High Court will remain alive, for the High Court has ascribed many a reasons to arrive at the conclusion that the said proclamation was not tenable in law. It required to be scrutinized whether within the scope of judicial review, such a finding could have been arrived at or for that matter whether the opinion arrived at by the President of India to proclaim the President's Rule at the relevant point of time was justified or not. 
"We may hasten to add, we have directed for floor test on concession of the parties and we had varied the order today on a prayer being made by the Union of India.
"The second aspect that deserves mention is that nine members of the Legislative Assembly have been disqualified. Their disqualification which has been upheld by the High Court is under assail before this Court in the special leave petition no.14140 of 2016. This Court has declined to grant interim prayer for stay of the impugned order against the disqualified MLAs in the special leave petition on 09.05.2016. The said matter has been adjourned to 12.07.2016. What will be the effect, if in the ultimate eventuate case the disqualification is set at naught would be a matter of debate. We say nothing on that score at present. For the purpose of production of the order of revocation, let the matter be listed on 13.05.2016. On that date, a day shall be fixed for hearing of the special leave petitions on merits," the order added.
After the disqualification of the nine MLAs, the Uttarakhand assemby had an effective strength of 62. While the Congress has 27 members in the House, the BJP has 28. The PDF has six members, including two belonging to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The UKD has one member and three are independents.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had, on April 27, kept in abeyance an order of the Uttarakhand High Court quashing the imposition of President's Rule in the hill state and restoring the government headed by Congress leader Harish Rawat back in office.
The Uttarakhand High Court order, which was seen as a major embarassment for the Modi government, was delivered on April 26 by a division bench headed by Chief Justice K. M. Joseph, which also asked Chief Minister Rawat to prove his majority in the state legislative assembly by taking a floor test on or before April 29.
President's Rule was imposed in the state on Sunday, March 27, just a day ahead of a trust vote that Mr. Rawat was scheduled to seek in the assembly on Monday on the direction of Uttarakhand Governor K. K. Paul.
The Centre had justified the imposition of President's Rule in the state, saying the state government was functioning in violation of Constitutional principles.
The Rawat government was pushed into a crisis when nine legislators of the ruling Congress rebelled against his leadership in early March.
The Union Cabinet had discussed the situation in the hill state at a meeting in Delhi late on March 26 night and decided to recommend the imposition of Central rule in the state to the President.
Briefing newspersons in New Delhi on March 27, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Cabinet had taken into account the developments in Uttarakhand during the past nine days and come to the conclusion that Constitutional principles were being violated by the state government and that the state government could not be run in accordance with the Constitution.
He said the Assembly had "passed" an Appropriation Bill through a voice vote on March 18, even though as many as 35 of the 67 members present (not counting the Speaker) had sought a division. They had written to the Speaker and the Governor ahead of the sitting of the Assembly on that day and had also informed them later that the Bill could not be considered to have been passed in the circumstances.
Mr. Jaitley said video recordings of the day's proceedings in the Assembly showed that the Appropriation Bill had actually "failed", which implied that the State Government was not authorised to incur any expenditure from April 1 onwards.
He said Mr. Rawat should have resigned on March 18 itself on the "failure" of the Bill and the continuance of his government after that date was "unconstitutional".
Mr. Jaitley said the state Governor had, in his reports on the situation in the state, said there were serious doubts about the proceedings of the Assembly on March 18.
He also said the Governor had advised Mr. Rawat to seek a vote of confidence in the House without much delay, but the latter had decided to convene the Assembly only on March 28 for the purpose. He alleged that the time in between had been used for "allurement and horse-trading". He said the video of an alleged sting operation, released on March 26, had provided evidence of this.


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