The Supreme Court today ordered a floor test on May 10 in the Uttarakhand Assembly when sacked Chief Minister Harish Rawat will seek a vote of confidence in which the nine rebel Congress MLAs cannot participate if they continue to remain disqualified at the time of voting.
A specially convened two-hour-long session during which the President’s Rule will be kept in abeyance will be held between 11 AM and 1 PM for a “single agenda” of floor test, a bench of Justices Dipak Misraand Shiva Kirti Singh said.
The Bench took a decision to keep away the rebel Congress MLAs from participating in the floor test by observing that “if they (disqualified MLAs) have the same status” at the time of vote of confidence, they cannot participate in the House.
Significantly, the MLAs’ plea against the disqualification is pending before the Uttarakhand High Court which is likely to hear the matter tomorrow.
The apex court said, “However, our observation in praesenti will not cause any kind of prejudice to the merits of the case of disqualified Members of Legislative Assembly, which is sub-judice before the High Court.”
This probably leaves scope for the MLAs to participate if the High Court gives some relief to them.
The bench made these observations after recording the submission of senior advoate C A Sundaram, appearing for the disqualified MLAs.
“His (Sundaram) submission is that the disqualified Members should be allowed to vote, though their votes may not be counted as long as the disqualification remains. This Court cannot direct them to participate in the Assembly. We say no more on this score,” the bench said.
The proceedings were directed to be “video-graphed” by the apex court which said the confidence vote will take place by division under the watch of the Principal Secretary, Legislative Assembly.
The top court said before the floor test will be initiated, the President rule will be kept in abeyance from 10:30 AM to 0100 PM and during that period the Governor shall remain in-charge of the State.
It said the result of the voting shall be placed before it at 10:30 AM on May 11, 2016, in a sealed cover by the Principal Secretary, Legislative Assembly who will come with the documents in a sealed cover and the video recording of the proceedings.
At present, in the 70-member assembly, BJP has 28 MLAs, Congress has 27, BSP has 02, while there are three independent MLAs and one belongs to Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P) lawmaker.
Nine rebel Congress MLAs have been disqualified by the Speaker. One BJP MLA, B L Arya defied the party whip and voted with the government on the Appropriation Bill on March 18.
While passing the order, the bench noted the submission
of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the Centre has no objection to have a floor test of the Assembly.
“Counsel appearing for both the sides have debated over the suggestions that have been given by the Court, as well as by each other, sometimes with appreciable amity and sometimes with some cavil, but, eventually, there has been an agreement,” the bench observed.
Taking on record the submission of the Attorney General, the bench said “we state it with uninhibited appreciation at our command that the floor test should be conducted under the supervision of this Court.”
The Attorney General and senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for Rawat, had agreed on 12-point modalities for holding the floor test.
The Congress had differed with Rohatigi’s suggestion that the confidence vote be conducted by appointing an observer, who could be a retired Chief Election Commissioner or a retired judge as it would compromise the autonomy of the House.
( Source – PTI )