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Supreme Court admits petition against removal of Governors

Thursday 15 July 2004

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JULY 14. The Supreme Court today admitted a public interest litigation petition filed by a former Bharatiya Janata Party MP challenging the dismissal of the Governors of Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Haryana and Gujarat by the Manmohan Singh Government on July 2.

A three-judge Bench, comprising the Chief Justice, R.C. Lahoti, and Justices G.P. Mathur and C.K. Thakkar, admitted the petition after hearing counsel Harshvardhan Pratap Singh, who submitted that he had not pressed for an interim stay on the removal of the Governors as it had become infructuous with the new incumbents assuming office.

The Bench also ordered notice to the Union Home Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary.

The Bench said that the petition raised an important public issue and involved the interpretation of Article 156 of the Constitution [under which the Governors were sacked] and directed that it be listed for hearing at an early date.

The petition by B.P. Singhal, brother of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, Ashok Singhal, assailed the sacking of the Governors, Vishnu Kant Shastri, Babu Parmanand, Kailashpati Mishra and Kidar Nath Sahani, alleging that it was in clear violation of Article 156 that provided for a fixed tenure of five years.

He said the ostensible reason advanced for the dismissals was that the Governors had links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

"The dismissal is illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional and the Union Government has done this purely for political reasons in order to enforce its political agenda."

The issue needed examination by the Supreme Court; if not, there was the apprehension that the four State Governments would also be dismissed going by the past performance of the Congress-appointed Governors.

The petitioner said there were instances in the past of Congress Governments misusing the office of Governor. In the interests of democracy and the general public, the Court should define the term "pleasure" of the President under Article 156 (1) of the Constitution relating to the tenure of the Governor because if such dismissals were permitted then the provision of 156 (3) providing for a tenure of five years would become redundant.

He sought the quashing of the dismissal order and a direction to the Home Secretary to produce the records relating to the dismissals.

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in "The Hindu", July 15, 2004.

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