President’s rash action on Uttarakhand de facto nullified

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

President of India is not legally bound to comply with the cabinet’s recommendation with immediate effect or within a given time. He is the only political authority over the cabinet and is entitled to take time in taking a decision till his own wisdom matching constitutional provisions helps him take the decision.

But, in Uttarakhand matter, he seemingly did not apply his mind and took a rash decision to impose President’s rule, which has led to a legal predicament.

When Chief Minister Rawat was to prove his majority in the floor of the House on March 28, the President imposed his rule on March 27, denying minimum natural justice to the incumbent CM to defend his position in consonance with democratic norms.

This rash action of the President, though not nullified by the State High Court, is de facto disapproved by judicial wisdom, as the court has ordered today that the CM shall show on March 31 in the floor of the Assembly his strength to justify his continuance in office.

This order of the High Court silently quashes the President’s order; because, when seeking confidence vote, he shall be a regular chief minister, not a caretaker to which status the President’s rash action has dragged him down.

Only a regular chief minister can seek a confidence vote or face a no-confidence motion. Confidence or No-Confidence does not apply to a caretaker CM.

Therefore, it is clear that, without nullifying the President’s order in words, the Uttarakhand High Court has nullified the President’s order in action.

If on March 31, majority members do not support Rawat in confidence vote, he will relinquish office as a regular chief minister could have done. If he wins, he shall not be required to take a fresh oath, because he shall just continue as the regular chief minister.

Hence, it is clear that the High Court order has de facto nullified the President’s order.

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