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Hope for justice has died: Congress leader

Rahul Gandhi

Our Special Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 27.07.20, 03:34 AM

The Congress on Sunday asked the people of India to raise their voice to save the Constitution and democracy from the “BJP’s assault”, lamenting it had become difficult to hope for justice from the judiciary.

The party ran a social media campaign under the hashtag “SpeakUpForDemocracy”. Rahul Gandhi led 
the senior leaders, MPs, chief ministers and office-bearers in highlighting the “threat to the Constitution” amid concerns that an attempt was being made to subvert the people’s mandate in Rajasthan after Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and some other states. 

“India’s democracy will run on the basis of the Constitution and people’s will. The people will protect the democracy and Constitution by defeating the BJP’s machinations and conspiracies,” Rahul tweeted.

Party spokesperson Ajay Maken told a news conference in Jaipur: “It is indisputable that the Modi government has mounted an attack on India’s democracy. Do they want to turn democracy into a slave or puppet of Delhi’s rulers? The biggest concern is that the hope for justice from the judiciary has died. Even governors holding constitutional offices appear incapable of protecting the Constitution.”

The Rajasthan government has sent a fresh recommendation to the governor to summon the Assembly from July 31.

Maken said some fundamental questions needed to be answered for the sake of democracy: 

  • Is the BJP’s attack on the Constitution acceptable to the country? 
  • Will the vote of the eight crore people of Rajasthan decide the government or the power and money of people sitting in Delhi? 
  • Can the Prime Minister and the Centre crush constitutional traditions for their lust for power? 
  • Can the governor refuse to call the session recommended by the elected government? 
  • Can the judiciary interfere with the legislature’s domain, creating an undesirable conflict?”

The crisis in Rajasthan had erupted after the rebellion by Sachin Pilot, who has denied any links with the BJP. However, the two lawyers representing him in court are considered close to the BJP and Modi and have over the past six years tackled in various courts the key political and legal problems the Modi government has faced. The Congress has also cited as proof of BJP collusion tapes of phone conversations of the dissidents and their being holed up in BJP-ruled Haryana. 

Governor Kalraj Mishra’s reluctance to call an Assembly session, after the chief minister asked for one to prove his majority on the floor of the House, finally triggered a full-fledged conflict.

Another Congress spokesperson, Abhishek Singhvi, on Sunday cited several Supreme Court judgments and the Constituent Assembly debate to argue that the governor was not expected to act independently, in defiance of cabinet recommendations.

“Is it conceivable that any governor ever should refuse or delay the holding of a floor test, which truly determines who has the numbers?” Singhvi asked.

“Do objections/queries, intended to delay and postpone the floor test, not let the cat out of the bag as to who really has the numbers? Is the governor and his diverse advisers who have generated such queries not aware of established jurisprudence?”

Singhvi continued: “The framers of the Constitution repeatedly rejected the possibility of two competing executive authorities in the state, the governor and the chief minister. Clearly, the central government and the governors want to revive diarchies. 

“In the Constituent Assembly, B.R. Ambedkar said: ‘According to the principles of the Constitution, governor is required to follow the advice of his ministry in all matters.... We felt that the powers of the governor were so limited, so nominal, his position so ornamental that probably very few would come forward to stand for election.’ Ambedkar also said: ‘Governor under the Constitution has no functions which he can discharge by himself: no functions at all….’”

Singhvi, a senior lawyer, said the convening of the Assembly was not linked to the Speaker’s decision on the disqualification of MLAs, a matter now pending before the courts. 

“The queries made by the governor are ridiculous. It is amusing to note that issues regarding the facilitation of MLAs’ movements, their attendance and other logistical issues are being raised by the governor before calling the session. The governor’s concerns seem touching but patently beyond his jurisdiction. Assemblies have been called in several states from August 3 despite Covid and the same should be allowed in Rajasthan,” he said.


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