|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
The Rediff Special/ Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Just who took on Buta Singh?
January 25, 2006
On Tuesday, a landmark Supreme Court judgment pulled up Governor Buta Singh for recommending the dissolution of the Bihar state assembly in March last year.
The apex court's judgment has rocked the ruling United Progressive Alliance government. The knives are out and the political sharks have smelt blood.
If you are want to know more about the judgment and its significance, read on.
Who filed the petition on Bihar in the Supreme Court?
Several legislators of the Bihar assembly -- that was dissolved by a Presidential Order on May 23 last year – filed the petition. Rameshwar Prasad Chaurasia from Nokha assembly constituency was the main petitioner. Chaurasia, who studied physics at Patna University, is a 43-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party politician. He has represented the Nokha constituency three times in a row.
What were the main points of Chaurasia's petition and when did he file it?
He filed his petition on May 31 last year, challenging the Government of India's order dissolving the Bihar state assembly on the assumption horse-trading was on in full swing to buy out legislators to get a majority on the floor of the House.
Chaurasia had challenged the jurisdiction of the Centre in invoking Article 356 of the Constitution – President's rule – in the state.
Chaurasia questioned Governor Buta Singh's actions and his report to New Delhi that led to the dissolution of the state assembly and forced fresh elections in the state.
What did Buta Singh claim in his report to New Delhi?
In his report to the Union government, Buta Singh had claimed he had got reports that since no party had got a majority, horse-trading was on for the formation of the new government.
When did he send the report and what was the Centre's reaction?
Buta Singh sent his report to the Government of India on May 22 last year to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil. Presuming that the contents of the governor's report were true, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh held a meeting of the Union Cabinet at his residence at midnight on the same day and decided to issue an ordinance dissolving the Bihar state assembly.
He spoke to President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, who was in Moscow at the time, and the President faxed his approval.
What did the Supreme Court say in its judgment?
Since Constitutional issues were involved in the petition, it was clubbed along with other petitions and referred to the five-judge Constitutional Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Y A Sabbarwal.
The other judges on the Bench are Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice B N Aggarwal, Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Arijit Pasayat.
In its interim order in October last year, the Constitutional Bench described the dissolution of the House as unconstitutional. A detailed judgement was pronounced on Tuesday.
Were all the five judges unanimous in their verdict?
No. It was a majority judgement. While three judges -- Chief Justice Sabbarwal, Justice Bhan and Justice Aggarwal – ruled against the dissolution of the house and said the order of the governor can be reviewed under judicial scrutiny, Justice Pasayat and Justice Balakrishnan gave a dissenting note to the judicial review.
What did the court say about the role of the governor and the Central government?
The court in its verdict slammed the governor for giving a 'perverse' and 'mala fide' report with a view to help a certain political party -- presumably, Railway Minister Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal -- and not discharging his duties according to the Constitution, as he was bound to do under oath.
The court also held the Central government responsible for not verifying the report of the governor through its own channels and acting on it without applying its mind.
What did the court say about the appointment of governors?
The Supreme Court has said politicians should not be appointed as governors to occupy Raj Bhavans. Instead, eminent people should be considered for such posts, as has been recommended by the Justice R S Sarkaria Commission, which had been appointed to review the Centre-state relationship. Buta Singh, incidentally, has been a lifelong Congressman.
What next for Buta Singh?Since he has refused to resign, it is now for New Delhi to remove him from office or shift him to another state.
The Rediff Specials