Nine disqualified rebel Congress legislators in Uttarakhand will not be able to vote in the floor test by ousted chief minister Harish Rawat on Tuesday, with the Supreme Court giving no relief to them while issuing notice on plea.
Issuing notice to Uttarakhand assembly speaker, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh directed the next hearing of the matter on July 12, saying that on that day it will consider the plea of the rebel legislators for a stay of Uttarakhand High Court’s decision, pronounced earlier on Monday, dismissing their plea challenging their disqualification.
The notice has also been issued to Congress lawmaker Indira Hridayesh on whose complaint the Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal had disqualified the nine, led by the former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna.
Appearing for the legislators, senior counsel C.A. Sundaram urged the bench to put in abeyance the disqualification of the nine rebel lawmakers in the same manner it has asked that the president’s rule be kept in abeyance for two and half hours on Tuesday to have the floor test, saying if the court was testing the ground reality, then the nine should also be allowed to vote.
Justice Singh however told Sundaram that the order to keep in abeyance the president’s rule for two and half hours following consensus between the contending parties.
The court, which had earlier said that ‘Principal Secretary, Legislative Assembly’, Jaidev Singh would be present as a “neutral perceptionist” at the time of the voting on the confidence motion, now directed that the “principal secretary, legislative and parliamentary affairs who belongs to the cadre of the district judge shall remain present to conduct the affairs with perceptible objectivity and singularity of purpose of neutrality along with the secretary, legislative assembly”.
“We ingeminate it that we have so directed so that no party can raise a cavil with regard to the process of voting,” the bench said in its order.
This reiteration came by way of clarification as Jaidev Singh in a communication to the central government had said that he could not act in pursuance to the top court’s May 6 order since his designation had been wrongly mentioned as there was no post of principal secretary, legislative assembly.
As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi brought the communication to the notice of the bench seeking modification of the order, it was opposed by senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Rawat, who said that Singh was not the part of the cadre of the assembly secretariat and thus being an outsider, he could not be present in the assembly while the confidence motion would be going on.
However, not accepting the submission, the court, while reiterating its May 6 order, said: “The purpose is to save the sanctity of democracy which is the basic feature of our constitution. This Court, being the sentinel on the qui vive of the constitution is under the obligation to see that the democracy prevails and not gets hollowed by individuals.”
Pointing out that this was the case “where one side, even in the floor test, does not trust the other and the other claims that there is no reason not to have the trust”, the bench, while modifying its order, said: “Hence, there is the need and there is the necessity to have a neutral perceptionist to see that absolute objectivity is maintained when the voting takes place.”