NEW DELHI: The Centre gave an undertaking in the Uttarakhand High Court that it will come to it before any decision is taken to lift the President's rule in the state after Congress made a strong pitch for the first right to form the government.
"I will inform the court before any decision is taken to revoke the Presidential Rule," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Centre, told the High Court. The court was dealing with an interim pplication of former Chief Minister Harish Rawat in which it was apprehended that the Cental life may be lifted to facilitate installation of a BJP-led government in the state.
In his plea, Rawat has sought a direction to the Governor that he should be asked to form the government first if any decision to revoke the Presidential Rule is taken by the Centre during the pendency of his main petition.
The ousted CM has also apprehended that the Centre in "connivance" with the state BJP may revoke the Presidential Rule during the pendency of the case and deny "rightful opportunity" to him to form the government making his petition infructuous.
At the outset, senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the former CM, told the bench comprising Chief Justice K M Joseph and V K Bisht that the present petition against the imposition of President's rule may be rendered infructous if the Centre suddenly decides to revoke the Presidential Rule and invite state BJP to form the government. "We will have to protect the right of the litigant," the bench observed initially.
During the proceedings in the forenoon, the Attorney General objected to the oral submission of Singhvi, saying the court cannot pass any order to stop the political process and, moreover, such kind of oral submissions should not be entertained.
Singhvi, who argued on the merits of the case challenging the President's rule in the state, filed an interim application in the evening seeking a direction to the Governor that Rawat and not the state BJP be invited first to form the government if President's rule is revoked.
Rohatgi vehemently opposed the submission of Rawat saying the Governor cannot be made a party to a petition and the BJP has not been a party here. "Under Article 361 of the Constitution there cannot be an injunction against the Governor," Rohatgi said and referred to a recent Supreme Court order in the Arunachal Pradesh case in which the notice issued to the Governor was taken by the apex court.
He further said that there cannot be a restraint on the political process and moreover "the courts have the power to set the clock back."
At the fag end of the day, the bench, which has now posted the matter for further hearing on April 18, said, "can you talk to somebody higher up in the government and tell us what is going on.
The bench also expressed "prima facie" anguish on the imposition of President's Rule a day before the scheduled floor test in the Assembly. Sensing the mood of the bench, AG made a statement that he will come to the court first if any decision on revocation of President's Rule is taken.