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Bihar dissolution: Supreme Court indicts governor

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: January 24, 2006 13:55 IST
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In a severe indictment of Bihar Governor Buta Singh, the Supreme Court on Tuesday held that he misled the Centre in recommending the dissolution of the state assembly and said the Union Council of Ministers should have cross-checked before accepting his recommendation.

The Supreme Court, which in its October 7 interim order had opined that the dissolution was unconstitutional, said the governor acted in 'undue haste' in sending his report and his full motive was to prevent Janata Dal-United from staking claim to form a government after a fractured verdict.

Giving detailed reasons why the dissolution was unconstitutional, a five-judge bench in a 3-2 judgment, said the governor misled the Council of Ministers by sending a report containing 'unascertained facts'.

The court verdict had come on a batch of petitions by a group of legislators of the dissolved assembly and a public interest litigation by a Supreme Court advocate.

The bench said that the governor's report contained 'fanciful assumptions', which could be destructive to democracy.

Terming the governor's action as 'drastic and extreme', the bench said the court cannot be a silent spectator to such 'subversion of the Constitution'.

It said that the time has come to consider a National Policy outlining common norms for appointment of governors.

It held that the governor enjoyed complete immunity and is not answerable in exercise of constitutional power but Article 361 does not take away from the court the power to deal with the validity of his action.

The majority judgment was passed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, Justice B N Agarwal and Justice Ashok Bhan. The minority view was taken by Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat.

The governor had recommended the dissolution amid allegation that he prevented the National Democratic Alliance, which was on the verge of cobbling up a majority with a breakaway group of Lok Janshakti Party of Ram Vilas Paswan and few independents from forming the government.

It further said that the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution were not relevant at that time when the governor had sent his report to the Centre.

"That was fully an unconstitutional act."

The issue of defection has to be dealt in accordance with the law as no such power is given to the governor. If such a power is given to a governor, it would be horrendous.

The power in the 10th Schedule lies with the speaker and not with the governor.

The court reiterated the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission report regarding the appointment of governors according to which only an eminent person free from political affiliation should be appointed to the constitutional post.

With PTI inputs

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi