The Supreme Court on Friday cleared the decks for ousted Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat to prove his legislative majority in the state Assembly on Tuesday, but nine disqualified rebel Congress legislators won’t be allowed to vote.
The top court said it would monitor the voting that is to take place at 11 a.m. The entire proceedings of the House will be videographed, the court said.
The two-judge division bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh also ordered that President’s Rule in the hill state will be kept in abeyance from 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the House proceedings.
The order came after the Central government informed the court that it was ready to conduct a floor test in Uttarakhand only if it is done under the top court’s supervision.
“There should be one agenda (for the short session in the Assembly). It should only be a test of strength between the two political alliances in the assembly,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court, appearing for the Central government.
Rohatgi told reporters that the voting record and the videographed proceedings would be handed over to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Uttarakhand has been under President’s Rule since 27 March after the Central government dismissed the Congress government led by Rawat, citing constitutional crisis in the hill state.
The Central government invoked the controversial Article 356 to remove Rawat, saying his government was in minority after nine Congress legislators rebelled.
President’s Rule was lifted for a few hours in the state following an Uttarakhand High Court order on 21 April. It was reimposed by the Supreme Court a day later.
Uttarakhand was plunged into political crisis after nine Congress legislators, including former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, whom Rawat replaced, rebelled and turned to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The crisis peaked on 18 March when the Assembly passed a finance bill by voice vote even as the opposition, backed by the rebel Congress members, demanded recorded voting. The BJP cried foul after Speaker Govind Kunjwal declined.
Rawat was then asked by Governor K.K. Paul to prove his majority on 28 March. Two days ahead of the voting, Speaker Kunjwal disqualified the Congress rebels.
In the 70-member House, the Congress has 27 legislators, excluding the rebels who won’t be allowed to take part in the trust vote on Tuesday. The BJP has 28 members. There are six from other parties who have earlier voiced their support for the Congress government.
Rawat would need at least 32 members to support him in the House whose strength has been reduced to 61 after the disqualification of nine members. Disqualified “rightly or wrongly”, the Supreme Court said, the nine Congress members cannot vote in Tuesday’s floor test.