Why was Prez Rule imposed in fifth year of Rawat rule, HC asks Centre

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The Uttarakhand high court on Monday asked the Centre’s counsel to explain why President’s Rule was imposed on the state at a time when the Harish Rawat government was in its fifth year.

The court raised this question while hearing a petition filed by the deposed chief minister against the central government’s decision, taken barely one day before a scheduled trial of strength in the assembly.

Putting forth the Centre’s stand, attorney general Mukul Rohtagi said President Pranab Mukherjee signed the order only after going through the facts. He said that 35 MLAs (including nine Congress rebels) had sought a division of votes on the appropriation bill on March 18, but it was not accepted by speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal. While BJP MLA Ganesh Joshi was arrested the same day, another member – Bhim Lal Arya – was told to absent himself from the house. BSP MLA Sarwat Kareem Ansari was also not present in the house, he contended.

Rohtagi said that 35 of the 68 MLAs in the assembly were against the bill, but the speaker would not allow a division of the votes because he was aware that the government was in a minority.

Contending that the money bill itself was the floor test, the attorney general held that the government had fallen on the evening of March 18 itself. To drive home the Centre’s point, Rohtagi produced a video recording of that day’s proceedings before the court.

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