The state government of Uttarakhand was to prove its majority in a floor-test scheduled for 28th March, 2016 (a floor-test is a voting done in the house to show that the ruling government is in majority – if the opposition claims otherwise). But before that, a video sting operation revealed that the Chief Minister (Rawat) was trying to indulge in horse-trading (buying support from MLAs). Based on this and other allegations, President’s Rule was imposed in the state – just a day before the floor test – and as a result, the state Assembly got dissolved, and Uttarakhand is now under the central government’s direct control.
[Update: The High Court soon dismissed center’s action, but the centre took the case to Supreme court which also concluded (on 06th May 2016) that floor test should be allowed]
Why is the President’s Rule justified?
- President’s Rule can be imposed in a state if a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution (source: Article 356 of the Indian Constitution). The following are the main allegations by the state BJP (part of a memorandum that was submitted to the President of India) justifying President’s Rule in Uttarakhand:
- Nine MLAs were disqualified (for alleged defection) just in time before the scheduled floor-test – thus, they could not have voted had the floor-test happened. This implies that the test result would have failed to show that the ruling government was not in majority (though it should be noted that disqualification of MLAs on the ground of proven defection is totally constitutional);
- if the sting video is confirmed to be true (there are already allegations for it to be doctored) – the question arises that ‘why would a CM indulge in horse-trading if he has a majority?’ and ‘if a CM is caught doing horse-trading before a floor-test, should the result of the floor-test matter at all?’
- Uttarakhand state governor KK Paul “did not act on the request of the majority of the legislature to dismiss the state government and on the contrary, granted 10 days’ time” to Rawat to prove his majority.
Why is it NOT justified?
- President’s Rule was historically envisaged for extraordinary circumstances. There have been earlier court rulings were such action should be initiated only in rare of rare scenarios. This particular case, based on justifications given by the state BJP, does not appear to be extraordinary. Can a sting video really be a basis for President’s Rule to be imposed in a State, especially just a day before the constitutionally approved floor-test (that is technically the only approved way to prove one’s majority)? Last month (March 2016), BJP imposed President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh too. Thereafter, it extended outside support to the Congress to enable them to form a new government. (Source). The Supreme Court is hearing the Arunachal Pradesh case and based on that verdict, we will probably have more clarity on the legal / constitutional righteousness of this approach.
- This could be a strategy for the BJP to try and show the Congress in poor light in next month’s assembly polls in Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. A defeat would reduce the number of state governments in the Congress kitty and have an adverse impact at the national level.
- In the past, when the BJP was not the ruling central government party, it has itself defended its beleaguered chief ministers whose regimes were sought to be destabilised by Article 356. (Source)
UPDATE: High Court nullified the President’s Rule and the matter is in the Supreme Court presently. Here is a good summary of why the High Court was convinced, this was an illegal move by centre.
We at Neutral News neither want to shame those who were detrimental in imposing President’s Rule in Uttarakhand nor support the alleged malpractice by the ruling Congress to try winning the vote of confidence (had the floor test been allowed). You have all the facts now and we leave it you to draw your own conclusion.
Feature image source
Post (originally by Neha Kirpal) edited by Amrit Vatsa