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SC stays HC order on President’s rule in U’khand till Apr 27

Supreme Court

New Delhi : The Supreme Court today stayed till April 27 the judgement of the Uttarakhand High Court quashing the imposition of President’s rule, giving a new turn to the continuing political drama in the state by restoring the Central rule there.

Before passing a brief order,  a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh recorded an undertaking given by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the “Union of India shall not revoke the Presidential proclamation till the next date of hearing”.

The apex court clarified that it was keeping in abeyance the judgement of the High Court till the next date of hearing on April 27 as a measure of balance for both the parties as the copy of the verdict was not made available to the parties.

While listing the matter for hearing on April 27, the bench said that the High Court shall provide the judgement passed yesterday to the parties by April 26 and on the same date the copy of the verdict shall also be placed before the apex court.

The Supreme Court’s stay has the effect of undoing the revival of the Congress government led by Harish Rawat by the High Court judgement yesterday.

During the hearing, the bench also observed that as a matter of propriety the High Court should have signed the verdict so that it would be appropriate for it to go into the appeal.

The apex court issued notice to  Harish Rawat and Chief Seceretary of the state on the petition by Centre challenging the quashing of Presidential proclamation under Article 356 of the Constitution in the state.

Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, along with senior advocate Harish Salve, pressed for the stay of the HC judgement.

He said how one party can be put at advantage and assume the office of Chief Minister when the other party is pushed to disadvantage in the absence of the judgement.

Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Rawat and the Assembly Speaker, argued hard against the passing of any interim order saying “you are allowing the appeal by giving the stay”.

Sibal was of the view that allowing  stay of operation of the High Court verdict would be like enforcing the proclamation of the President rule.

During the jam-packed hearing, the bench sought to pacify both the parties saying that it has to take a balanced view as this is a Constitutional court.

“We will take on record the copy of the judgement and go through it. This matter may go to Constitution bench,” the bench said.

The high-voltage hearing at 3.30 pm started with the Attorney General attacking  Rawat assuming the office as Chief Minister and chairing a cabinet meeting when the copy of the judgement passed yesterday was not made available to parties.

“How can the judgement be implemented unless you have the copy of it. It can’t deny a party to file an appeal. I see on TV that the respondent (Rawat) says he has been resurrected as the Chief Minister and late in the night calls for cabinet meeting. How can you say that the government has been resurrected.

“In the absence of the copy of the judgement the other party cannot go to appeal. The idea is not that you steal a march,” Rohatgi said while seeking a stay of the high court judgement quashing the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand and restoring the dismissed Congress government.

When the bench asked the Attorney General as to when the hearing on the appeal can take place, he said the judgement has to be signed as a signed judgement cannot be altered.

“Today we find that in the absence of the signed judgement, somebody is acting in his office which is not appropriate.”

“If the judgement is subject to appeal, it cannot be allowed to be implemented. It cannot be subjected to the advantage of some and disadvantage of others,” he submitted assailing the quashing of the March 27 notification on proclamation of President’s rule and the granting of status quo ante by the High Court.

He said the Presidential proclamation was based on the Union Cabinet’s note which has considered the apex court’s S R Bommai judgement which has dealt in great length with the issue of Article 356 and the floor test.

Rohatgi referred to the March 18 incident when during the presentation and passing of the Appropriation Bill, the Rawat government was reduced to minority with nine Congress MLAs turning rebel and joining hands with 27 BJP MLAs in demanding vote by division which was not allowed by the Speaker and those 35 MLAs complained to the Governor.

“Something was brewing,” he said, adding that “if the voting by division was allowed to have taken place, the Rawat government would have fallen on March 18 itself. So, if the money bill falls, the government would have fallen and the majority government would have become minority.”

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