The Uttarakhand high court in Nainital will hear the plea filed by former chief minister Harish Rawat challenging the imposition of President’s rule and the Centre’s ordinance for the budget on Thursday, continuing his counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s argument from the day earlier.
Singhvi argued that the Centre’s decision was in violation of the Constitution in front of a joint bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and justice VK Bisht on Wednesday, taking up most of the court’s time. Additional solicitor generals Maninder Singh and Tushar Mehta, who are representing the Union government, were unable to present their counter arguments, and will have to wait till Singhvi finishes his presentation on Thursday morning.
The court’s verdict could shape the political future of Uttarakhand which has been in a stalemate since nine rebel MLAs from the ruling Congress helped pass an appropriation bill on March 18. The rebels, backed by the BJP, were demanding a voice vote that was denied by the Speaker who ruled the bill as passed. The BJP and rebel legislators denied the claim.
What followed was a series of events leading to President’s rule being imposed on March 27, a day before Rawat was asked prove his majority in floor test. Amid the developments, it was also claimed that Rawat had offered money to the rebel legislators to support him.
On Thursday, the Centre will try to justify the imposition of President’s rule, basing their argument on the claim that the appropriation bill was not passed.
Stating that the government is prepared to tackle the case with facts, Nalin Kohli who is part of the Union government’s legal team, lashed out at the Congress for trying to gain political capital.
Former Congress MLA Navprabhat also challenged the BJP, alleging the whole episode was a ploy to topple the state Congress government. “We have 34 MLAs and are ready to prove majority,” he said.
Uttarakhand has been dealing with the political turmoil for close to a month now; if the court delivers a verdict on Thursday, it would have ramifications for both BJP and the Congress who are pitted against each other in the battle for control over the state government.
Despite the court proceedings, Rawat has started holding public rallies claiming sympathy for being ousted in an unfair manner by the Narendra Modi-led central government. On the other hand, some BJP leaders are weary that the President’s rule may go against them in the next assembly elections slated for early 2017.