HC orders floor test in Uttarakhand Assembly on Mar 31

By: | Published: March 29, 2016 9:55 PM

The Centre got a jolt today as the Uttarkhand High Court ordered a floor test in the Assembly on March 31, giving a new turn to the political developments...

The Centre got a jolt today as the Uttarkhand High Court ordered a floor test in the Assembly on March 31, giving a new turn to the political developments two days after President’s Rule was imposed in the state.

Justice U C Dhyani also allowed nine disqualified rebel MLAs of Congress to participate in the voting but their votes will be kept separate and will be subject to final outcome of the petition challenging their disqualification.

“The session of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly shall be convened for 31-3-2016 at 11 AM. The only agenda, which would be taken up in the Assembly on that date, would be the Vote of Confidence, as directed by the Governor earlier,” Justice Dhyani said in his 25-page judgement.

It observed that the only change is in the date which is fixed by the court.

However, the court made no pronouncement on the status of the President’s Rule that was imposed on Sunday on the ground of “breakdown of Constitutional machinery” in the state.

The court said it was giving a “non-invasive, non-prejudicial relief” in the writ petition filed by ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat.

“To give the floor test a semblance of neutrality, and without prejudice to the rival contentions, all the MLAs shall be entitled to take part in the floor test, with, without or despite their disqualification, which shall be subject to adjudication by the court of competent jurisdiction on an appropriate occasion,” it said.

The court also directed that the Assembly proceedings shall be totally peaceful and without disturbance. The Chief Secretary and DGP were instructed to ensure that all MLAs attend the assembly “free, safely and securely” without any hindrance.

The judge further directed that the result of confidence vote shall be kept by the Speaker in a sealed cover and submitted/intimated to the court at the earliest and in any case by the morning of April one. The court posted the matter for further hearing at 2 PM on that day.

“The votes of disqualified members shall be kept separate,” the court said, observing that its order shall be treated as notice to the MLAs. The court registrar will be the Observer for the day’s proceedings.

The Centre may challenge the verdict before the Division Bench of the High Court tomorrow. Congress also plans to approach the Division Bench relating to the part of the judgement that deals with the disqualified MLAs.

The votes of the disqualified MLAs will be taken into account subject to final outcome of the case, senior Supreme Court lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters after the second day of the hearing here.

Singhvi appeared for the sacked Chief Minister Harish Rawat who had challenged the imposition of President’s Rule and demanded its immediate quashing.

Rawat welcomed the order, saying it was a “tremendous setback” for the Centre which was trying to bring “authoritarianism”. But this order would deter them from trying to destablise non-BJP governments in states, he said.

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