Jaitley justifies President’s rule in Uttarakhand

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday justified the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand, saying Chief Minister Harish Rawat should have quit after failure of the Appropriation Bill, but constitutional breakdown was compounded further by his actions.

“Having plunged the state into a serious constitutional crisis by continuing a government which should have quit after the failure of the Appropriation Bill, and further complicating the crisis, the chief minister started allurement, horse-trading and disqualification with a view to altering the composition of the house,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post.

He also criticised Uttarakhand assembly Speaker Govind Kunjwal for suspending rebel Congress legislators.

“The majority was declared to be a minority and vice versa and the composition of the house was attempted to be changed in violation of the Constitution to convert a minority into a majority,” he said, referring to the March 18 proceedings of the assembly and the speaker’s decision to suspend the nine rebel Congress lawmakers.

Terming this move of the speaker as unprecedented,Jaitley said, “This leaves the state without any approved financial expenditure with effect from April 1. What better evidence do we need of a breakdown of the Constitution?”

“It is now incumbent upon the central government to ensure that steps are taken under Article 357 to authorise expenditure of the state with effect from April 1,” he said.

Jaitley said there are strong facts to suggest that the Appropriation Bill was actually defeated and as a consequence, the government had to resign.

“Two further consequences flow out of this. Firstly, the Appropriation Bill sanctioning expenditure from April 1, 2016, was not approved and, secondly, if the Appropriation Bill was defeated, the continuation of the government is unconstitutional. It is to be noted that till today, neither the chief minister nor the speaker have forwarded a certified copy of the Appropriation Bill to the governor. Obviously, there is no assent of the governor to the Appropriation Bill,” he said.

“As of today, there is no Appropriation Bill certified by the speaker which has received assent of the governor. If it is speaker’s case that the rebels voted in favour of the Appropriation Bill and, hence, it has been passed, then the rebels could not have been disqualified,” Jaitley added.

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