Full marks to Supreme Court for pragmatism over Uttarakhand crisis
Full marks to the Supreme Court for its pragmatism, even though the case started with the court framing as many as seven questions on April 27 (leaving everyone wondering how those questions could be seriously debated in two weeks with a promised judgment on May 13).Updated: May 12, 2016 11:20 IST
In the light of the declared result of the Uttarakhand floor test, the continuance of President’s Rule could not have been justified any further and the central government did the right thing in telling the court that it would revoke President’s Rule forthwith. But this doesn’t mitigate its loss of face.
The case will of course remain pending but this is only going to be of academic interest. There will be learned debates on why the high court’s decision striking down the imposition of President’s Rule would not be “justifiable”, though the validity of a President’s Proclamation is “justiciable”.
The theoretical possibility of the disqualification of the nine rebel Congress MLAs being set aside in future and the effect of that on the current Congress majority do not detract from the fact that the Congress stands vindicated. Political developments between now and July, when the Court re-convenes after the summer break, may make the issues even more academic. The chief minister would be wise to announce dissolution of the Assembly and declare early elections.
Full marks to the Supreme Court for its pragmatism, even though the case started with the court framing as many as seven questions on April 27 (leaving everyone wondering how those questions could be seriously debated in two weeks with a promised judgment on May 13).
The court decided to apply Bommai at the very beginning and suggest a floor test. The decision of the central government to agree to a floor test came as a pleasant surprise, as did its undertaking to the Supreme Court not to revoke President’s Rule in the meantime (an undertaking not to install a BJP government during the time). It wasn’t quite so reasonable before the high court.
The Centre has now saved the office of President from further embarrassment. But one must ask the uncomfortable but inevitable question: Could the Hon’ble President have saved himself from every kind of embarrassment? The President does have the power to raise queries and to ask for reconsideration.
The present incumbent sought clarifications in the case of the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh and had questioned the urgency of promulgating the Land Acquisition Ordinance.
As the head of state, he has used his moral authority to stress the importance of plurality. A previous President has sat on mercy petitions; the Constitution does not prescribe a timeframe for the President to act.
If the SC does ultimately uphold the judgment of the Uttarakhand HC striking down President’s Rule it would, all said and done, be awkward for the President. But it needn’t be so if he had queried or delayed, just a bit.
(The writer is a senior advocate in the Supreme Court)
First Published: May 12, 2016 10:37 IST