TT, New Delhi, May 11: The Centre today told the Supreme Court it was withdrawing President’s rule in Uttarakhand to pave the way for Harish Rawat’s return as chief minister, in a gesture being seen as an attempt to save face.
As soon as the results of yesterday’s floor test were placed in a sealed cover in court and the hearing began, attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi said: “The Assembly session was held yesterday in the presence of the principal secretary, legislative and parliamentary affairs. He is here with the record. It is clear that voting took place orderly.
“Respondent No. 1 (Rawat) has proved his majority. We will revoke President’s rule forthwith. Which means Rawat government will stand restored forthwith.”
By making the statement, the Centre saved itself the embarrassment of being ordered to lift President’s rule, which it had imposed on the state on March 27.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Rawat, complimented Rohatgi for taking a “fair” approach to the issue by promising to withdraw President’s rule.
However, Rawat faces the prospect of another floor test in the near future with the bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh underlining that the issue of the disqualification of nine rebel Congress MLAs was still open. If the disqualification is quashed, that might warrant another floor test, it said. The matter will be heard in July.
The court also accepted Rohatgi’s contention that the question of the validity of the Uttarakhand High Court order quashing the presidential proclamation will also have to be gone into.
“As far as appeal against the (April 21) judgment is concerned, we can hear in September….
“Justiciability of President’s rule does not go away, it has to be tested. Supposing if we set aside the disqualification, there will be another floor test,” Justice Misra, heading the bench, orally observed.
Later the apex court passed the following written order: “We have opened the result of the voting that has been produced before us in a sealed cover…. On a perusal of the same, we find that the 1st respondent has obtained 33 votes out of 61 votes.
“Be it clarified, nine members of the legislative assembly could not vote as they stood disqualified as on that day and even today… .
“At this juncture, it is submitted by the learned attorney-general that the order dated 22.04.2016 (restraining the Centre from revoking President’s rule) be modified so that the Union of India, which is wedded to the concept of democracy, shall take steps for revocation of the proclamation of President’s rule.
“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 the 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.”