Unlawful dissolution: On J&K Assembly
Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Dissolution of Assembly
Mains level: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues
and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and
finances up to local levels and challenges therein
- In dissolving the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly without giving any
claimant an opportunity to form the government, Governor Satya Pal Malik has
violated constitutional law and convention.
- Mr. Malik’s stated reasons for his action “extensive horse
trading” and the possibility that a government formed by parties with
“opposing political ideologies” would not be stable are extraneous.
- The Governor ought to have known that the Supreme Court has
deprecated such a line of reasoning. In Rameshwar Prasad (2006), the then
Bihar Governor Buta Singh’s recommendation for dissolving the Assembly the
previous year was held to be illegal and mala fide.
Key highlights of this incident
- In both instances, the dissolution came just as parties opposed to
the ruling dispensation at the Centre were close to staking a claim to form
the government. In Bihar, the Assembly was then in suspended animation as no
party or combination had the requisite majority.
- In J&K, the State has been under Governor’s rule since June, when
the BJP withdrew from the coalition and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, of
the Peoples Democratic Party, resigned.
- It is true that the PDP and the National Conference had not
initiated any move to form a popular government for months and favoured
- That cannot be the reason for the Governor to dissolve the
87-member House just when they were about to come together to form a likely
56-member bloc with the help of the Congress.
Significance of this alliance
- Describing such an alliance as opportunistic is fine as far as it
is political opinion.
- However, it cannot be the basis for constitutional action.
- As indicated in Rameshwar Prasad, a Governor cannot shut out
post-poll alliances altogether as one of the ways in which a popular
government may be formed.
- The court had also said unsubstantiated claims of horse-trading or
corruption in efforts at government formation cannot be cited as reasons to
dissolve the Assembly.
- It said it was the Governor’s duty to explore the possibility of
forming a popular government, and that he could not dissolve the House
solely to prevent a combination from staking its claim.
- Mr. Malik’s remarks that the PDP and the NC did not show proof of
majority or parade MLAs show shocking disregard for the primacy accorded to
a floor test.
- J&K’s relationship with the Centre is rooted in constitutional
safeguards as well as in the participation of its major parties in electoral
politics and parliamentary democracy.
- Anyone interested in political stability in the sensitive State
should ensure that democratic processes are strengthened.
- The potential for political instability in the future should not
be cited as a reason to scuttle emerging alliances.
Q.1) The term “Moral Hazard” is often used by policymakers to point out to
a situation where
1. A person takes more risks because someone else bears the cost of those
2. A government servant abuses his authority and financial powers to the
detriment of public interest
Which of the above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
Q.1) Critically evaluate The J&K Governor’s action controverts what has
been laid down by the Supreme Court.