The Supreme Court on Wednesday posed seven questions to the Centre regarding its move to impose President's rule in Uttarakhand on March 27. The Supreme Court also stayed on Wednesday the Nainital High Court's order that removed President's rule in the hill state until further notice.
A political crisis arose in Uttarakhand after an unpopular money bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly in March, following which nine MLAs of the ruling Congress apparently backed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The MLAs were then disqualified under the anti-defection law. Governor KK Paul had told the Congress to prove its majority in the Assembly, but the Centre imposed President's rule a day before the floor test.
The state high court on April 22 removed President's rule and the Harish Rawat-led government came to power, albeit for one day. The high court had scheduled the second floor test for the end of the month. The Centre subsequently appealed the ruling in the Supreme Court, which put a stay on the withdrawal. The case is still in court.
The questions asked by the Supreme Court to the Centre on Wednesday, according to the Hindustan Times, are:
- Whether disqualification of MLAs by the Speaker is a relevant issue for the purpose of imposing President's rule under Article 356
- Whether the governor can ask the Assembly Speaker for division of votes as both are Constitutional authorities
- Can a delay in the floor test be ground for proclamation of President's rule in a state?
- Can proceedings in the Uttarakhand Assembly be taken note of by the President for imposing President's rule?
- What is the stage of the appropriation bill and when does President's rule come into the picture with regard to the appropriation bill?
- Whether the governor could have sent message in the manner under Article 175 (2) to conduct a floor test
- The convention is if a money bill fails, the government goes, but who is to say the money bill hasn't been passed if the Speaker doesn't say so?
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi had argued that President's rule was imposed due to the government's corruption, which was countered by Rawat's counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The floor test scheduled for April 29 has been scrapped by the Supreme Court. The next hearing is on May 3, ANI reported.