December 10, 2018:
On Monday, Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the Jammu & Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to dissolve the state assembly, saying there was no merit in the pleas filed by former BJP legislator Gagan Bhagat.
“We are not inclined to interfere (with the decision of the governor),” a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi & Justice SK Kaul said.
Senior counsel Jaideep Gupta, appearing for the ex-Bharatiya Janta Party lawmaker Bhagat, said that Malik dissolved the assembly even though there were two letters before him staking claim to form the government.
Gupta referred to an earlier judgment of the top court which said that a governor should have made every effort to examine if a government can be formed before exercising the extreme option of dissolving the elected assembly.
The state assembly, which was in suspended animation, was abruptly dissolved by Malik on Nov 22, hours after the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) staked a claim to form a government with the backing of arch rival National Conference and the Congress with the support of 56 legislators in the 87-member assembly.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti wrote to the governor that her party, which has 29 MLAs, was backed by the NC and Congress with 15 & 12 legislators, respectively.
This was followed by another bid from the People’s Conference led by Sajjad Lone, saying it had the support of 25 legislators belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and “more than 18” others.
The dissolution was announced by Malik in a communique released by the Raj Bhavan. The state assembly’s tenure was till Oct 2020.
The PDP and the BJP ruled J-K following the assembly elections in 2014 in a coalition that lasted almost 40 months.
In June, the BJP parted ways with the PDP, saying it had become impossible to continue in the government given the growing radicalism and terrorism in the state. The state has been under Centre’s rule since.
The six-month tenure of the governor’s rule ends on Dec 18. This will be followed by the President’s rule.