Uttarakhand: Harish Rawat wins trust vote, set to form government

Congress leader Harish Rawat is all set to be reinstated as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, over six weeks after he was ousted by the Centre…

Congress leader Harish Rawat is all set to be reinstated as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, over six weeks after he was ousted by the Centre, with the Supreme Court today putting its stamp of approval on the floor test in the Assembly yesterday.

“Rawat gets 33 votes out of 61 in the floor test. No irregularities were found in the voting. 9 MLAs could not vote due to their disqualification,” an apex court bench said and directed revocation of the President’s rule forthwith so that 68-year-old Rawat can assume office as Chief Minister.

Celebrations broke out in Dehradun the moment the news trickled in from the court that Rawat has won the trial of strength in the Assembly yesterday which was carried out on the instructions of the Supreme Court.

The developments have come as a major loss of face for the Modi Government at the Centre which had dismissed the Congress government and imposed President’s rule after nine Congress MLAs sided with the BJP on the Appropriation Bill.

The rebel MLAs were subsequently disqualified by the Speaker under the anti-defection law, a decision that was upheld by the High Court and not interfered with by the Supreme Court.

The bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh made the pronouncement today after perusing the records filed by Principal Secretary (Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs) as directed by it.

At the outset, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi conceded that there is no doubt that Harish Rawat has proved his majority.

“It is clear that respondent number 1 (Harish Rawat) has proved the majority on the floor of the house. I have received instructions from the Centre on the issue. The instructions are that the Centre will revoke the President’s rule,” the AG told the bench.

“It’s a fair decision,” senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Harish Rawat, told the court.

The bench said Harish Rawat will assume office as CM after President’s rule is revoked. “We allow the Centre to revoke forthwith the order of proclamation of President’s rule in the state,” it said.

The bench asked the Centre to file before it day after tomorrow its order revoking the President’s rule in Uttarakhand.

It, however, held that the justifiability of the proclamation of President’s rule made on March 28, which has been assailed by the high court, will remain alive as it is under challenge before the apex court.

It also noted that the nine disqualified MLAs have challenged the HC order and the matter is of debate. “We do not say anything on that,” the bench said.

An ecstatic Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said that democracy has won and hoped that the Prime Minister will “learn the lesson”.

“They (BJP) did their worst. We did our best. Democracy won in Uttarakhand.

“Hope the PM learns the lesson that people of India and institutions built by our founding fathers will not tolerate murder of democracy,” Rahul said on Twitter.

The bench said the justifiability of the President’s rule has to be gone into and observed, “Suppose we set aside the disqualification of the nine MLAs, there will be another floor test.”

The bench noted in its order that the proceedings of the floor test were appropriately observed by Principal Secretary (Legislature and Parliamentary Affairs), Uttarakhand, along with Secretary (Legislative Assembly).

The bench also recorded the statement of AG and Additional Solicitors General Tushar Mehta and Maninder Singh that there has been no irregularity in carrying out the voting.

“We have opened the result of the vote presented to us in a sealed cover by Jaidev Singh, Principal Secretary (Legislature and Parliamentary Affairs) and we find that 33 votes out of 61 were cast in favour of Rawat,” the bench said.

“We also clarify that nine members of the Legislative Assembly did not vote as they stand disqualified,” it said.

Earlier, Attorney General Rohatgi said that “it is clear from news and other reports that orderly vote did take place and Rawat proved his majority. I have taken instruction from the government and instruction from the very highest authority is that we will revoke the President’s rule.”

“I also have an instruction that this can only be done with the leave of this court. We will revoke the President’s rule from today. I have also advised the government to revoke the President’s rule,” the AG said.

Senior advocate Sibal said, “Our appreciation is for the fair stand taken by the AG.”

The AG said, “His (Rawat’s) government has to be restored forthwith.”

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