In a major embarrassment to the NDA government, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday set aside the order of the Centre that put the state under President's Rule on 27 March. Allowing former Chief Minister Harish Rawat's plea challenging the imposition of President's Rule, the High Court said the nine dissident Congress MLAs will now have to pay the price of committing "Constitutional sin" of defection by being disqualified. The court ordered fresh floor test on 29 April.
The High Court said the material considered for imposing President's Rule has been found wanting. Congress hailed the judgement as the "victory of democracy". Article 356 was imposed in Uttarakhand contrary to law laid down by Supreme Court, the High Court observed. Celebration broke out Rawat's residence as soon as the court announced the verdict.
The court also observed that the fate of nine Congress MLAs was entirely irrelevant and extraneous to imposition of President's rule in the state. "Government led by petitioner Rawat will revive," the PTI quoted the HC as saying.
"We won't stay our own judgement. You can go to Supreme Court and get it stayed," the court said, rejecting the Centre's plea for a stay. Congress, predictably was jubilant.
"The Uttarakhand HC decision is a victory of people of the state," Rawat said. "This is a win for the state of Uttarakhand", he told reporters after the verdict.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government stand exposed for abusing their authority, misusing provision of Constitution, destabilising an elected government, using questionable means and methods. The Prime Minister and Home Minister need to apologise for the sins that were committed", said senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, reacting to the development.
The Prime Minister and Home Minister need to apologise for the sins that were committed.
The kind of observations the state High Court has been making for last three days, we are not surprised by its order: BJP General Secretary— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) April 21, 2016
President's Rule was imposed in Uttarakhand on 27 March, after the Centre cited a Constitutional breakdown in the wake of a rebellion in the ruling Congress. President Pranab Mukherjee signed the proclamation under Article 356 of the Constitution, dismissing the Congress government headed by Rawat and placing the Assembly under suspended animation on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet.
Earlier, the court had observed that it would be a travesty of justice if the Centre revoked its order imposing President's Rule and allowed someone else to form a government before it gave the verdict.
(With inputs from agencies)
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