Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Government considering Supreme Court's suggestion over floor test in Uttarakhand

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning that the government is suggesting the court's suggestion for a floor test in Uttarakhand at the highest level. He sought time till Friday. The court agreed. and Justice Dipak Misra pronounced the court's agreement in an order. Justice Mishra has also said that there will be no status quo ante.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, representing former Uttarkahand chief minister Harish Rawat expressed apprehension that the floor test needs to be defined as otherwise it would allow anyone to prove the majority. They said that that floor test implies that the President's Rule is removed, and Rawat, who is rspondent Number One in the case, should be asked to prove his majority.

Justice Mishra reiterated that there will be no status quo ante, by which he meant that it will not consider that Rawat would seek the floor test in his capacity as chief minister. But he conceded the point mae by Singhvi that in case of floor test, it will be Respondent Number One who would be seeking to prove his majority. Justice Mishra that there is a precedent in holding the floor test in the Jharkhand case.

Rohatgi later speaking to the press said that what the court said on Wednesday was that it has given time to the government till Friday. And whatever may the decision of the government, the court also will commence arguments in the case. Asked about the issue that it would be Rawat who would be seeking the floor test, he said that as of now, the court did not presribe the modalities, which will come up on Friday. He said that Justice Misra's reference with regard to Respondent Number One (Rawat) was an oral observation.

In 2005, Supreme Court had directed a floor test in Jharkhand. It was Chief Justice R.C.Lahoti who gave the order in response to the petition of former chief minister Arjun Munda. The court overruled then Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi. Justice Y.K.Sabharwal observed during the arguments that if the governor's action was male fide, the court can assert its authority by virtue of the powers of judicial review.

Interestingly, Mukul Rohatgi was then representing Arjun Munda, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi was representing the Jharkhand government.

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