| Buta: Eye of storm
New Delhi, Sept. 2: Constitutional and legal experts believe that the report of Bihar governor Buta Singh that formed the basis for the dissolution of the Assembly was in order, while the representatives of the National Democratic Alliance ' the BJP and the Janata Dal (United) ' termed it a “farce”.
“If there was genuine apprehension of horse-trading, it is a good enough ground (for recommending dissolution),” said a senior Supreme Court counsel, P.P. Rao.
“Three things have to be kept in mind: was anyone prepared to form a government' In this case, nobody was coming forward because nobody had marshalled the requisite strength. If there were reports that the legislators were sought to be won over with inducements, the desirable course of action is to dissolve the Assembly,” he said.
Another counsel of the apex court, Prashant Bhushan, termed the Bihar case “unusual” because it was the first time the fear of horse-trading was used as a ground to dissolve the Assembly.
“There was an impending split in one of the parties (the Lok Janshakti Party) and this split was not possible, constitutionally and legally,” said Bhushan.
The governor’s apprehensions were “legitimate” in the “circumstances”, the advocate said, adding that the case acquired a high profile because of a “general perception about a lack of integrity on the governor’s part” and because of the developments after the dissolution.
The BJP protested loudly. “It is perhaps for the first time in democratic history that an Assembly is dissolved on the basis of presumption (of horse-trading) and without any authentic evidence whatsoever,” said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
“The governor is expected to be the custodian and protector of democracy and the Constitution, but Buta Singh worked only to benefit the RJD and did not allow the formation of any other government on realising that the RJD cannot do it,” he said.
“The governor cannot hide behind the pretext of special powers. The fact is that the dissolution was ratified in the middle of the night to stall the formation of an NDA government and no amount of verbal jugglery can justify the action,” said Shambu Srivastava of the Dal (U).
Sushil Modi, a BJP MP from Bihar, demanded Singh’s resignation, saying his “doctored” report “established beyond doubt that he had no evidence to back his so-called apprehension of horse-trading”. Modi alleged that Singh “misled the President of India”.
The NDA said it would plan its strategy to counter the report after the next hearing of the case in the Supreme Court on September 6.
Modi and Srivastava stressed it had provided more fodder for their ongoing Nyaya Yatra. “Our yatra articulates the feelings of the people of Bihar who are angry because they were denied a legally elected government,” said Srivastava.