Press Trust of India

Dissolution of JK Assembly: Constitutional experts term decision as unprecedented

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New Delhi: Citing “opposing political ideologies” of parties staking claim to form a government as a factor for dissolution of a state Assembly is unprecedented, a constitutional expert said Thursday, as the legal fraternity remained divided over the validity of the abrupt decision of the Governor to dissolve the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.
Governor Satyapal Malik Wednesday night cited four main reasons for dissolving the Assembly with immediate effect, including “extensive horse-trading and possible exchange of money” and the “impossibility” of forming a stable government by parties with “opposing political ideologies”.
Some constitutional and legal experts supported the governor’s decision shortly after the PDP and arch rival National Conference(NC) along with the Congress staked claim to form the government which was followed by another bid from the two-member People’s Conference which claimed the support of the BJP and 18 legislators from other parties.
They said the governor is “well within his rights” to do so as he felt a stable government was untenable.
The reactions of the experts were sought by PTI.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general and constitutional expert P D T Acharya said it is for the first time that an assembly has been dissolved after the governor concluded it was impossible to form a stable government by parties with “opposing political ideologies”.
Acharya said the conclusion of the governor that opposing political ideologies cannot put up a stable government was “not credible”.
Echoing Acharya’s view, senior lawyer Rajiv Dhavan said citing opposing political ideologies as a reason for dissolution was incorrect.
“The parties are disparate. That makes no difference. Coalitions are bound together by all kinds of ideologies,” he said.
But former LS secretary general Subhash C Kashyap said there is “nothing unconstitutional” in the governor’s decision.
Senior advocate and constitutional expert Rakesh Dwivedi shared Kashyap’s view, “No party is in a position to form government or to provide stable government,” he said.
Senior advocate Ajit Sinha said the governor will have to justify the grounds that parties with opposing ideologies cannot form a government but it is a valid constitutional ground because there is failure of constitutional machinery and rule of law. “The governor is well within his powers,” he said.
Acharya said even the BJP and PDP have opposing ideologies and they were allowed to form a government in the state.
“First duty of the governor is to explore the possibility of forming a government in the state. The reason that opposing political ideologies cannot form a stable government is not a credible reason,” he said.
He was of the view that the PDP, National Conference and Congress should have been allowed to form a government. “Yes this is for the first time time that such a conclusion has been drawn. I have not come across a similar situation,” he said when asked if this is for the first time that a governor has dissolved an assembly as he felt that opposite ideologies cannot form a stable government.
But Kashyap said the governor came to a conclusion it was not possible to form a stable government as there were reports of horse trading and efforts to buy legislators.
“He is entitled to conclude that such a government will not be stable … there is no violation of constitution. There is nothing unconstitutional in his decision,” he said.
Dwivedi felt the governor should have dissolved the assembly much earlier and called for elections.
“No party is in a position to form government or to provide stable government. The PDP and the National Conference were strongly opposed to each other and they have changed their stances only when the defection (allegedly) started in their party. Mr Lone (Sajjad Lone) and others went. In this scenario, the governor would be justified in concluding that there is no stability in the political situation,” he said. Sajjad Lone is the leader of the People’s Conference
Dwivedi said the governor has to take into consideration all such factors.
“It is in the interest of the state of Jammu and Kashmir that elections are held at the earliest. It is also in the interest of the country,” he added.
Sinha said there are certain grounds for dissolution, one is failure of law and order.
“If there is a failure of machinery and rule of law is under stake, the Governor is well within his powers,” he said.
On the reason given as parties with opposing ideologies forming government , he said “if such a ground has been given, then the governor has to justify it.”
“… and that is a different matter but it is a valid constitutional ground because there is failure of constitutional machinery and rule of law. The governor is well within his powers,” Sinha opined.
The dissolution of the assembly, which was in suspended animation since June 19, marked the culmination of a day-long high-voltage political drama Wednesday in which PDP president Mehbooba Mufti wrote to governor that her party, which has 29 MLAs, backed by the National Conference and the Congress with 15 and 12 legislators respectively intended to stake claim for formation of the government. (PTI)

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