New Delhi : The answer to the question – whether the courts can review the president’s decision to proclaim Central rule in a state — is now shaping up in the Uttarakhand High Court through the observations of a two judge bench comprising Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bist.
Going by the court’s observations, the Centre’s March 27 decision to recommend to the President that the Uttarakhand government should be dismissed and president’s rule imposed under Article 356 of the constitution is under a cloud.
During the course of the arguments, the court has made observations such as: “There is no such decision like that of a king which cannot be subject to judicial review,” and “Even the President can go wrong.” There are enough hints that the central government has done the wrong thing, in comments such as: “You are cutting at the root of democracy’ and the observation that: “Each decision has an impact 10-20 years down the line.”
Strong strictures by court suggest it feels Centre’s decision on Uttarakhand is suspect; Even President can be wrong, says HC
“We hope they will not provoke us,” said the two judge bench after senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi raised the apprehension that President’s Rule might be revoked before a verdict is pronounced. Singhvi said President’s Rule should not be lifted before a judgment is reserved or pronounced and the “opposition” should not be invited to form a government as this would render their plea infructuous.
Singhvi, who appeared for former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, in his plea challenging President’s Rule also expressed the fear that the Attorney General’s statement of April 7 — that nothing with regard to 356 will be done till April 17 — has “expired”. This, he felt, was highly ominous.
Singhvi also said that the Centre cannot resort to such tactics to force the court to deliver a verdict quickly. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, however, did not confirm whether any decision with regard to revocation of President’s Rule has been taken by the Centre.
Late last month, the dissidence within the Congress against Chief Minister Harish Rawat snowballed with nine legislators from the party voting against his budget. The Centre concluded from this that Rawat had lost his majority in the house. Without the rebel Congressmen, he was reduced to less than the 36 votes he needed to remain in power, the opposition BJP alleged. Based on the recommendation of Governor KK Paul, the Centre called for President’s rule, and introduced it just a day before Rawat was meant to take a trust vote, as mandated by the High Court.