In a ruling that will help sacked chief minister Harish Rawat, the Uttarakhand High Court on Monday dismissed the petition of nine disqualified Congress MLAs. The nine MLAs have now approached the Supreme Court against dismissal of their plea in HC.
The CJI has asked counsel for MLAs to approach the bench which had ordered floor test. The plea will be heard at 2 pm.
The Uttarakhand High Court held that by their conduct they have “voluntarily given up membership of their political party”, implying that they can be disqualified on that ground.
This decision will bar them from participating in tomorrow’s confidence vote. The ruling serves as boost to sacked Chief Minister Harish Rawat.
“This court, subject to scrutiny of Speaker’s action on the principles of natural justice, therefore, holds that the ingredients of paragraph 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution are met against the petitioners.
“By their conduct, it has been established that they have ‘voluntarily given up membership of their political party’, even if they have not become members of any other political party,” Justice U C Dhyani said in his 57-page judgement.
He was giving a verdict on the two writ petitions filed by the nine MLAs against Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal in disqualifying them for joining hands with BJP MLAs against the Congress government headed by Harish Singh Rawat.
Today’s order of the high court ensures that their disqualification stays and will keep the rebel MLAs out of the proceedings during the confidence vote for Rawat in the Assembly tomorrow ordered by the Supreme Court last week.
Ordering a floor test on May 10 in the Assembly, the Supreme Court had said “if they (disqualified MLAs) have the same status” at the time of vote of confidence, they cannot participate in the House.
A specially convened two-hour-long session during which the President’s Rule will be kept in abeyance will be held between 11 AM and 1 PM for a “single agenda” of floor test, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh had said.
At present, in the 70-member assembly, BJP has 28 MLAs, Congress has 27, BSP has 02, while there are three independent MLAs and one belongs to Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P) lawmaker. Nine Congress MLAs are disqualified and one is a BJP rebel.
Meanwhile, the Centre on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its order on the issue of floor test in the Uttarakhand Assembly, saying the official concerned has refused to act as observer on the ground that a clarification is needed on his designation.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the matter before a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh while submitting that its May 6 order had mentioned the designation of the official as Principal Secretary(Legislative Assembly) which needs to be corrected to Principal Secretary (Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs).
The AG told the bench that the official concerned, who is of the rank of district judge, has written to the Centre that he would not act as observer unless a clarification comes from the apex court.
Senior advocates Abhishek Manusinghvi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for sacked Chief Minister Harish Rawat, opposed the plea of the Centre on the ground that the Principal Secretary (Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs) is an non-cadre post and no outsider can be allowed to participate in the proceedings of the House.
Sibal said the post of Principal Secretary (Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs) comes under the state government.
The bench said it will take up the matter at 12.30 PM.
(With inputs from PTI)