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SC stays Uttarakhand HC order till April 27

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that the Uttarakhand High Court order, removing President’s rule in the hill state and restoring Congress’ Harish Rawat as chief minister, be kept in abeyance till April 27.

A bench of Justice Dipak Mishra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, while passing its orders, asked the high court to provide the copies of its April 21 judgment to all the parties by April 26.

“The judgment shall be filed before this court on that day (April 26),” the order said.

It also ruled that there would be no revocation of the presidential proclamation till April 27 when the court will again hear the matter.

“It is directed that the judgment of the high court shall remain in abeyance till April 27. That apart, as undertaken by Mukul Rohatgi, the attorney general, the Union of India shall not revoke the presidential proclamation till the next date of hearing.”

The order came after an hour-long arguments on the central government’s petition seeking stay of the high court order.

While the top court put in abeyance the operation of the high court verdict, it indicated in the course of the arguments that it may refer the entire matter to the constitution bench as it involved important issues.

As the bench was about to pass its order, senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, said that its order would amount to granting final relief sought by the central government in their challenge to the high court verdict.

Addressing the concern, Justice Singh said that they are not interfering with the order of floor test on April 29, as directed by the high court.

Senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Rawat, said: “Your lordships are upholding what has been quashed by the high court” and suggested that Rawat should continue as chief minister but not act till April 27.

Countering the resistance by Singhvi and Sibal to the court staying the operation of the high court verdict till April 27, Attorney General Rohatgi said: “You should take advantage of the judgment but I should not seek stay of it.”

Addressing the court on the central government’s petition, he told the court that it should stay the effect of the order passed by the high court on April 21 as “it can’t be allowed to be implemented to the disability of the other parties” since in the absence of the reasoned judgment, they can’t challenge it in its entirety.

Besides this, Attorney General Rohatgi referred to the speaker not allowing voting on the appropriation bill even though 27 Bharatiya Janata Party legislators and nine Congress members had sought voting.

He said that if Kunjwal had allowed the division as sought by the BJP and rebel Congress members, then the appropriation bill would not have got through (passed) thereby resulting in the fall of the Rawat government.

Rohatgi also referred to the instance of ‘horse trading’ of legislators and Rawat speaking about money in a sting operation.

In response, Singhvi said that for the sake of argument, if it was assumed that what Rohatgi was saying was true, yet one single instance was not enough to invoke article 356 of the constitution and impose the President’s rule, referring to the apex court judgment in the case of then Karnataka chief minister S.R.Bommai, who was removed as the chief minister by the governor in 1989 without being given an opportunity to prove his strength on the floor of the house.

Meanwhile, as senior counsel C.A. Sundaram, appearing for the nine disqualified Congress members who have also moved the apex court, sought to address the court, Sibal said that they have already moved the high court, which will hear their pleas on Saturday.

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