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Uttarakhand crisis: HC to hear rebel Congress MLAs petition

The fate of the nine Congress rebels – crucial to the crisis playing out – hangs in the balance a day after the Supreme Court upheld their disqualification under the anti-defection law by Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal. Their petition challenging the Speaker’s move comes up for hearing in the Uttarakahnd high court today.

Uttarakhand crisis Updated: Apr 23, 2016 14:54 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Rebel Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna with supporters at his residence in Dehradun.
Rebel Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna with supporters at his residence in Dehradun.(PTI Photo)

The Uttarakhand high court will on Saturday hear a petition challenging the disqualification of nine dissident Congress MLAs from the assembly, bringing focus back on the rebel legislators who set off the ongoing political crisis in Uttarakhand.

The fate of the nine rebels – crucial to determining the majority in the assembly – hangs in the balance a day after the Supreme Court upheld their disqualification under the anti-defection law by Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal.

Read more | Uttarakhand crisis: Nine Congress rebel MLAs hold key

Eight of the nine rebel Congress legislators have moved the high court on two grounds – that they were not given enough time by the Speaker to respond to the charges, and that they were not provided ‘proof’ of their alleged anti-party activity.

HOW EVENTS UNFOLDED

  • March 27: President’s Rule imposed in the state, Speaker disqualifies rebel Congress leaders hours later
  • March 28: Congress moves high court against President’s Rule and the rebels appeal their disqualifi cation
  • March 29: Single-bench judge UC Dhyani allows fl oor test. BJP goes to the division bench March 30 Division bench stays trust vote, asks both Rawat and Centre to submit responses
  • April 18: HC resumes hearing, makes stinging remarks against Centre saying "no one is king or absolute, President can be wrong, judges can be wrong"
  • April 21: HC revokes President’s Rule
  • April 22: SC stays HC ruling after Centre gives undertaking that it will not revoke President’s Rule till April 27

KEY UPCOMING DATES FOR STATE

  • April 23: Writ petition of rebel MLAs challenging their disqualifi cation to come up for hearing
  • April 26: Deadline for HC to provide copies of its
  • April 27: No revocation of President’s Rule till April 27 when the court will again hear the matter

In case the single bench of Justice UC Dhyani goes against them, the legislators will move a division bench of the court, former minister and Congress dissident, Harak Singh Rawat said.

Another rebel, former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna hinted they may also move the Supreme Court, which has the right to review high court decisions.

However sources say the rebel’s legal counsel may seek more time from the court, thus deferring the hearing.

Read more | SC stays Uttarakhand HC order which set aside President’s Rule in state

Conflict between the Congress and their legislators arose during a debate last month over the state budget. The rebels were further backed by the BJP, skewering the majority in the assembly and leading to President’s rule being imposed in the state.

In the number game, Congress will have the upper hand if the court upholds the Speaker’s move to disqualify MLAs. In the 70-member assembly, the Congress has 27 members excluding the nine legislators. Backed by the Progressive Democratic Alliance of six legislators, the Congress could easily prove majority on the floor of the house.