Dehradun: In a big setback to the Centre, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday set aside the President's Rule imposed in the state on March 27.
The decision was passed by the two-judge bench of the Uttarakhand High Court comprising Chief Justice KM Joseph and BN Bisht, which said that there was no reason for the Centre to impose President's Rule in the state.
The high court also directed the Uttarakhand Assembly to conduct a floor test on April 29. The High Court, while pronouncing the verdict, said that status quo as on date of proclamation of President's Rule be restored. ''The government led by petitioner Harish Rawat will revive,'' it said further.
On the question of fate of nine rebel Congress MLAs, the bench said, ''Dissident Congress MLAs will have to pay the price of committing 'constitutional sin' of defection by being disqualified.''
Hailing the decision, former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, “It is a big victory. It is a victory of truth. It is a victory for the people of Uttarakhand.''
The Congress has termed it a big victory for the party and hailed the decision.''I salute judiciary for upholding truth and law,'' Indira Hridayesh, Congress leader said in her initial reaction to the development.
Uttarakhand issue should have been sorted out by floor test, renowned legal expert KTS Tulsi said.
Meanwhile, the high court ruling has triggered big celebrations in Uttarakhand. A large number of Congress supporters have gathered outside the residence of former chief minister Harish Rawat.
The high court ruling has come as a big embarrassment to the BJP government at the Centre, which is most likely to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.
Earlier today, the high court had sought assurance from the Centre that the President's Rule will not be revoked in the state for at least a week till the matter is legally decided.
The high Court also came down heavily on the Centre by saying, ''Tomorrow if you revoke President's Rule and invite somebody it will be travesty of justice.''
Is government a private party, it had asked.
Rapping the Centre for the haste shown in imposing the President's Rule here, the high court had said, ''More than anger we are pained that you can behave like this, how can you be playing with court?.''
''Why don't you give a definite instruction that you won't revoke President's Rule for a week,'' it maintained.
The two-judge bench of the High Court made these observations while hearing former chief minister Harish Rawat's plea challenging Centre's decision to impose President's Rule in the state.
While hearing the matter on Wednesday, the bench had said, ''President of India is not a king who is infallible but can go wrong and that his decision is open to judicial scrutiny.''
"Absolute power can spoil anybody's mind. Even the President can go wrong and in such case his decisions can be subjected to scrutiny. Indian courts have the power to scrutinise all orders," the court said.
Uttarakhand was plunged into a political crisis when nine Congress legislators, including former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, whom Rawat replaced, revolted against the chief minister and turned to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for support.
In the 70-member assembly, the Congress has 36 legislators, including the nine rebels. The BJP has 28. The other six members, from smaller parties, are said to support the Congress.