NEW DELHI: The President's rule will continue in Uttarakhand and the April 29 floor test in the Assembly ordered by the High Court will not take place as the Supreme Court today extended its stay on the quashing of the Central rule.
Hearing the Centre's appeal against the Uttarakhand High Court judgement revoking President's rule, the apex court framed seven tough questions and even gave liberty to the Attorney General to include other questions the government would like to be addressed.
The bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh posted the matter for further hearing on May 3 amidst indication that the verdict may be pronounced before the court breaks for summer vacation by the middle of next month.
The bench made it clear that it was extending the stay on the Uttarakhand High Court verdict till further orders on the consent of parties.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Rawat, said there was no question of opposing the bench's stand on continuing with the interim order staying the High Court's order for few more days.
During the hearing, the bench said possibly the answer to the current incident would ultimately be the floor test and asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to think over the questions and suggestions put forward by it.
"The matter has its own gravity and ultimately in such a case prima facie we have to sustain democracy and if we don't find merit with the President's rule then we will have to have a floor test.
"Therefore, as a constitutional concept unless we really vacate our order, not to say lift President's rule, we have to modify our order and have to say go for the floor test. Think over it," it said.
Attorney General said that he will think over it and inform the court.
The bench also said that this is an emergent situation.
While answering various questions Rohatgi, said President's rule will be operative for two months till May 27 and if it is upheld by the court, then to have a floor test will be the discreation of the government and if the President's rule is dismissed, it will be a case of non-existence of Central rule and in that event the direction to the governor will be to call for the floor test.
In a high-voltage hearing that commenced at 2pm in a packed court room, the bench, at the outset, took strong note of the plea of Uttarakhand Chief Secretary that he be also allowed put forth his views in the matter.
"What will the Chief Secretary do? Chief Secretary has nothing to do with the matter. What kind of affidavit he is going to file," the bench said.
The court then listed out seven questions which it wanted to deliberate upon during the course of the hearing and asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and others to assist it.
"Whether the Governor could have sent the message in the present manner under Article 175 (2) for conducting floor test," the bench said in its first question.
It further sought response on the question as to whether the disqualification of MLAs by the Speaker is a "relevant issue" for the purposes of invoking President's rule under Article 356 of the constitution.
Referring to constitutional scheme that the assembly proceedings are beyond the scope of judicial scrutiny, the apex court also posed the query whether the proceedings of the House can be considered for invoking President's rule.
Dealing with the claim and counter claim with regard to the fate of the Appropriation Bill in the Uttarakhand Assembly, it said that the next question is as to when the President's role comes in the picture.
"Can the delay in the floor test be a ground for proclamation of the President's rule," it asked.
The apex court, referring to defections of individual lawmakers, said that it is a matter of deliberations as to how this issue can be taken into account with regard to imposition of President's rule.
Lastly, the bench said that democracy "hinges on some stable concepts" and they may vary with a particular view point taken by rival political groups.
The court said an incident can be termed as destabilising for democracy by one political group and simultaneously, the other party can have divergent view on it.
Rohatgi, who opened arguments, said the Centre has also framed certain issues and they needed to be dealt with.
He gave accounts of events that had taken place on March 18 with BJP MLAs requesting the Governor to ask the Speaker to have a division of votes in the Assembly on the Appropriation Bill which was to be introduced in the House, later in the day.
Rohatgi said the majority of MLAs including 27 of BJP and 9 others had demanded from the Speaker for division on the Appropriation Bill but the request was denied.
The bench then asked the Attorney General as to whether the court can examine the incidents which have happened in the house and said that as per earlier judgement, unless there is "gross irregularity", the court cannot interfere.
Rohatgi said the majority rules under the Constitution and if majority of MLAs demands division, "can the Speaker say he won't allow the request, he can't under the law and that is the illegality."
"Speaker is the master of the house but he is not a king.
He has to be guided by procedures," Rohatgi said.
The bench then said that the Centre has to justify the proclamation on the reasons and said that if the proceedings recorded that the Bill has been passed then who has got the right to question the contrary.