Legality of disqualifying rebels may be key for BJP in Uttarakhand

  • Prithviraj Singh and Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, Dehradun/New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 28, 2016 11:13 IST
BJP MPs and MLAs from Uttarakhand leave at President Houseafter meeting with President of india in New Delhi, India on Monday March 21, 2016. (Sonu Mehta / HT Photo )

As the sting operation became the ground for imposing President’s Rule in Uttarakhand — the first in the state — legality of disqualification of nine Congress rebels by speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal may be key for the BJP to form the government in Uttarakhand.

Kunjwal announced disqualification of the rebels and sacking of minister Harak Singh Rawat on Sunday evening, hours after the Centre imposed President’s Rule.

Justifying his move, he said, “I have no formal intimation about imposition of President’s Rule in the state as there is no communication from the governor (KK Paul). But all rebel Congress MLAs have been disqualified.”

However, rebels refused to buy his theory. “It is so childish of him (speaker). The President’s Rule was notified at 13:10 hours and he did not know about it. What sort of constitutional experts he has with him” Subodh Uniyal, one of the rebels, told HT over phone from New Delhi.

He said he and other legislators will “knock on the door of the governor to seek justice”.

The disqualification may, however, get overturned as experts say the speaker has been rendered functus officio status — an officer whose mandate has expired .

“Once President’s Rule is imposed and state legislature is suspended sine die, speaker cannot carry out his functions,” said Gyanshankar Shukla, a constitutional expert.

The speaker apparently had failed to gauge the speed with which the Centre acted on Paul’s report that questioned the fairness of the floor test of Harish Rawat government slated for Monday following the sting operation.

Home ministry sources that the governor had submitted a five-page report mentioning the sting to bring into question the fairness of the floor test.

Umesh Kumar, the editor-in-chief of Samachar Plus channel, had conducted the sting.

“The report was received in the home ministry at 8 pm necessitating an emergency meeting of Union cabinet late on Saturday night,” a senior government official involved in the process said on condition of anonymity.

In all, the governor had sent three report to Union home ministry. “The third report came after the sting and it tilted the scale against the Rawat government,” said the official.

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