Notice to centre for imposing president’s rule in Meghalaya

March 25th, 2009 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday sought the government’s justification for imposing president’s rule in Meghalaya despite the state’s ruling alliance having won a March 17 trust vote.
A bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan also issued notice to the state government on a lawsuit by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader P.A. Sangma and deposed Meghalaya chief minister Donkupar Roy challenging the imposition of president’s rule.

The NCP had led the state’s ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA). President’s rule had been imposed in the state two days after the trust vote, with the central government citing a breakdown of the constitutional machinery to justify the measure.

The apex court bench, which also included judges M. Panchal and H.L. Dattu, slated the lawsuit for hearing April 13.

In the lawsuit, Sangma and Roy challenged the central government’s March 19 notification imposing president’s rule in Meghalaya and keeping the state assembly in suspended animation, contending that the entire exercise was aimed at installing a Congress government in the state.

Questioning the authenticity and correctness of the state governor’s report to the centre on the manner in which the trust vote was conducted, the lawsuit said it had “the effect of vitiating the presidential proclamation”.

Detailing the “factual backdrop” leading to imposition of president’s rule, the petition said that after the March 2008 assembly elections, an MPA coalition comprising five political parties and an independent legislator was formed in the state.

The MPA, at that time, had 31 legislators in the 60-member state assembly. This included 15 NCP legislators, 11 of the United Democratic Party (UDP), two of the Hills State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) and one each of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), besides one independent legislator.

As the election threw up a hung assembly, with the Congress emerging as the single largest party with 25 legislators, it was given the chance to form the government and was asked to prove its majority by March 20, 2008, the petition said.

The Congress government, however, resigned March 19, realizing it would not be able to prove its majority, the petition added.

This led to the formation of an MPA government, headed by Roy, with two more independent legislators joining the alliance after government formation and taking the coalition’s strength to 33 in the house.

But the Congress later won one more seat in a by-poll held following the death of a UDP legislator, said the petition, adding that this revived the Congress’ desire to install its government after engineering the defection of five MPA legislators.

After this, the Congress moved a no-trust motion against Roy’s government, the petition said.

The assembly speaker then suspended the defectors - one each from the NCP, the HSPDP and the KHANAM, as also two independents, for violating the anti-defection law and barred them from voting in no-trust motion in the house March 17, 2009, the petition contended.

On his part, the state governor directed the assembly speaker to restore the voting rights of the suspended legislators, the petition maintained.

In the ensuing voting on the no-trust motion, the Congress and the MPA secured 27 votes each, with the speaker eventually casting his vote in favour of the government to defeat the motion, the petition stated, adding that despite this, the government imposed president’s rule in the state.

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