SC asks BJP, Congress to spell out stand on Prez rule in Delhi

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 07, 2014 13:25 hrs

New Delhi: With Aam Aadmi Party crying foul on imposition of President's rule in Delhi, the Supreme Court today asked its political rivals, BJP and Congress, to clarify their position on keeping the Assembly under suspended animation for a year.

The apex court, which earlier had kept the two parties away from the hearing, decided to know their stand, after noting that neither the BJP nor the Congress had made their position clear on government formation following the resignation of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

It took into account the submissions of AAP and the Centre and wanted to know that "after enactment of tenth schedule of the constitution whether defection to happen can be a relevant consideration as a ground to keep the Assembly under suspended animation".

The bench was also looking for an answer as to "how the President's order can say that the Assembly has to be kept under suspended animation for a year."

When senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for AAP, said it was because of the provisions of law applied in the matter, the bench responded, "then it requires consideration."

"What is worrying, legally and constitutionally, is keeping the Assembly under suspended animation for a year may be harmful for democracy," the bench observed and added "is it not open for the President to recall his order".

The bench, which on February 24 had refrained from involving the BJP and Congress in the matter to avoid "political contest" at judicial forum, said since the position of the two parties was not clear on staking claim for government formation, their view has to be elicited.

"We issue notice to BJP and Congress as well now to know their position in the matter on the facts," a bench comprising justices R M Lodha and N V Ramana said while making it clear if their position becomes clear it may not be required to go into the question on whether speculation of defection to attain majority can be a ground to keep the Assembly under suspended animation.

The bench sought response from BJP and Congress within three weeks and decided to hear the matter on April 1.

    The bench also addressed the demand of AAP that the party was deprived by the Centre of the Lt Governor Najeeb Jung's February 15 report sent to the President which formed the basis not to dissolve the Assembly.

After Attorney General G E Vahanvati agreed that there was no privilege attached to the LG's report, the bench told him that AAP should have the copy of it as it had complained that no reason has been assigned for keeping the Assembly in suspended animation.

However, during the hearing, the bench perused the LG's report and said the Assembly was not dissolved as the LG was of the view that it was not in the interest of the citizen to hold the election in short interval and further time should be granted for exploring the possibility of staking claim for government formation.

The Centre had yesterday justified before the apex court that its decision of not dissolving the Delhi Assembly was taken in "public interest" as there was a possibility of BJP staking claim to form a government.

The Centre in its affidavit had also contended that holding elections in such a short time was not in public interest as recommended by the LG.

"There were two reasons given (by LG) that is election had been concluded in the first week of December and the government was formed only on December 28, 2013 and therefore in the circumstances it was not expedient or in the interest of the public to hold the next elections in such a short time," the affidavit had said.

"The governor further stated that in the circumstances the option of any other political party or alliance to stake a claim in the near future should not be closed," the government had said.

The Centre had submitted that reasons given by LG were correct, relevant and deserved acceptance particularly in the context of the fluid situation in the legislative assembly.

"In this scenario, as pointed out by the LG, the possibility of the BJP staking a claim to form the government could not be ruled out," the affidavit had said.

The affidavit was filed in response to apex court issuing notice to it on February 24 on a petition filed by AAP challenging imposition of President's rule in Delhi.

AAP approached the court seeking a direction to the LG to dissolve Delhi Assembly and hold fresh polls along with Lok Sabha elections.

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