President can be wrong, Says Uttarakhand High Court to Centre

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During a hearing on the imposition of President’s rule in the hill state, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday observed that President’s ruling is not above judicial review and told the ruling dispensation that even the President can go wrong.

The Centre on Wednesday claimed that the court cannot challenge the President’s assent which led to a sharp observation from the judges.

As additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta defended President’s Rule, the court said the case can be re-examined as there is ‘no king or absolutism’.

“There is no such decision like that of the king which can’t be subject to judicial review, that’s the essence of our Constitution. Even President can go wrong, everything is subject to judicial review. You should rejoice at the evolution we have had. We are not doubting wisdom of the President but everything is subject to judicial review. However high you may be, law is above you,” the HC said.

The court pointed out that the Governor in his report on March 25 report have clearly stated  that he was awaiting the floor test on 28. When the Additional Solicitor General argued “let us not screen these reports like a mathematical formula”, the court ruled “of course we have to because you say this was the material the President relied on”.

“How can it be said that the 35 MLAs would have voted against the government unless and until it is actually done,” the court asked on Tuesday. “What the speaker would do on March 27 could not have been divined by the cabinet on March 26. Assuming that they did divine, it was entirely irrelevant, for the central government to take that decision (to impose President’s rule) because then it would mean that the central government would be accused to be involved in politics,” the bench said.

 

On Tuesday, the HC had said that by imposing President’s Rule the Centre was taking away the powers of an elected government and introducing “chaos” and that floor test “cannot be deprived of its sanctity”.

The Uttarakhand High Court had  questioned the Centre’s move to impose President’s Rule in the state in the fifth year of the Congress Government.

“The Governor is not an agent of the Centre. This colours our mind. Can you remove a government based on a solitary incident and the government, which is in its fifth year? The root of the matter is you are cutting at root of democracy. Interference in the affairs of states is not to be seen lightly, emergency power should be used in extraordinary cases,” the court said.

The HC is hearing a petition by deposed chief minister Harish Rawat challenging the President’s Rule that was imposed on March 27, a day before Rawat was asked to prove his majority in an assembly floor test.

 

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