With BJP, 9 Congress MLAs posed as alternative govt: Court told

New Delhi : The chief whip of Congress in Uttarakhand Assembly on Tuesday produced a joint memorandum to the Governor signed by the nine Congress rebel MLAs on March 18 on the letterhead of Opposition leader Ajay Bhatt (BJP) to nail their claim that they had never left the party to be disqualified for defection.

Appearing for chief whip Indira Hridayesh before Justice U C Dhyani of the Nainital High Court hearing the rebels’ petition challenging their disqualification by Speaker on March 27, advocate Amit Sibal said the memorandum had sought dismissal of the Harish Rawat-led Congress government on the ground that it is in minority and functioning unconstitutional.

Amit is son of senior Congress leader and senior advocate Akhil Sibal appearing for ousted chief minister Harish Rawat and the Uttarakhand Speaker.

Both father and son appeared in the case on Tuesday, the senior Sibal on behalf of Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal and son on behalf of Ms Hridayesh. Justice Dhyani fixed further hearing on Thursday.

Kapil Sibal also got adjourned another case filed before the Bench of Chief Justice K M Joseph and Justice V K Bisht challenging an Ordinance issued by the Centre in lieu of the Uttarakhand Appropriation Bill, citing the matter of challenge to the President’s rule coming up before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The Centre’s petition challenging the High Court declaring the President’s rule as unconstitutional is listed before the Supreme Court Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh.

The High Court had asked ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat to have a trial of strength in the Assembly on Friday, which was also stayed by the Supreme Court last week.

Amit Sibal told the court that the Congress rebels and 26 BJP MLAs had sought to form an alternative government and as such it is an untenable argument that their memorandum was to form another Congress government with another chief minister.

Sibal also argued that rebels opposed the Appropriation Bill knowing well that it was a money bill whose defeat forces the government to resign.

“Right to criticise government does not mean the right to bring down its own government…This is contrary to the anti-defection law. Crossing the floor of the House is sufficient for disqualification,” he said.

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