New Delhi: Brushing aside strong objections from the ousted Congress Chief Minister Harish Rawat, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Principal Secretary, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs (PSLPA), a neutral person to monitor the `floor test’ in Uttarakhand Assembly on May 10.
On May 6, a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh had directed that the Principal Secretary, Legislative Assembly (PSLA) of Uttarakhand to oversee the floor test and to remain present at the time of voting.
This morning Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, made a mention before the bench that when the court passed an order on May 6, an impression was given that the PSLA is from the cadre of Higher Judicial Service of the State. But now it has turned out that there is another Principal Secretary, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs who only belongs to the judicial service and, therefore, a necessity has arisen for modification of the order.
Senior counsel Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi strongly opposed any modification of the order and said that since the PSLPA, is an outsider there should not be an observer as that would not be constitutionally permissible. They pointed out that only the PSLA is part of the Assembly, who alone should be allowed during voting.
Rejecting the argument, the Bench in its order said, “Today, it has been told to us that the PSLA is not from higher judicial service. The present situation, if we allow ourselves to say so, is a piquant one. The Court ordinarily would not have directed for having a session and direct Mr Rawat to prove the majority in the floor test."
The Bench said, “The purpose (to have an observer) 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. The directions which have been given on the last occasion (on May 6), was singularly for the purpose of strengthening the democratic values and the constitutional norms. The collective trust in the legislature is founded on the bedrock of the constitutional trust.”
It said, “This is a 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. 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. Solely for the aforesaid purpose, we intend to modify the order by directing 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. The order is modified accordingly. 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 directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on March 11 to consider the report of the Speaker in a sealed cover....