The Uttarakhand high court had termed imposition of President’s rule — a “solitary event” —as violation of a constitutional provision and had questioned governor KK Paul on asking speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal to allow voice vote on the appropriation bill.
Made public on Tuesday, a day before it would be discussed in the Supreme Court, the 99-page order quashing the President’s rule in the hill state said “the Article 356 has been used contrary to the law laid down by the apex court” and was found wanting under the circumstances it was used for proclamation of the President’s rule.
Last week, the SC stayed the HC order for a week following assurance by the Centre that it will not revoke the President’s rule till the next hearing and in absence of a written order of the Uttarakhand HC.
The Centre did not give a similar assurance in the HC despite the judges asking for it.
Noting that a solitary event — non-passage of the appropriation bill — was the ground for imposing President’s rule, the HC cited the governor’s letter dated March 19 to state that the bill was passed.
“The governor, in his letter, refers to the position that, as per known facts, the appropriation bill has been passed by voice vote and the decision has finality and that this has been the view of the courts and the Apex court, wherein it has been held that the decision of the Speaker about the proceedings cannot be questioned,” the division bench of chief justice KM Joseph and justice VK Bisht said, in their order.
The court also said that this was the reason for the governor allowing the ousted chief minister Harish Rawat a floor test and it was also a reason that Rawat did not resign.
In a Parliamentary system, the court said, if the money bill is defeated, the government tenders resignation. That did not happen, indicating that the bill got passed.
The HC also pulled up the governor for issuing a direction to the speaker for allowing voice vote saying how could one constitutional authority (governor) direct another constitutional authority (the speaker).
“It is not open to the governor to control the exercise of discretion vested with another constitutional authority,” the court said, while justifying the speaker’s decision on the floor of the house. The court said that the speaker can relax a rule if he or she desires.