Is President's rule inevitable?

sandesh prabhudesai, panaji | 04 March 2002 13:50 IST

Is getting Article 356 of the Constitution invoked inevitable for the Bharatiya Janata Party, who is otherwise opposed to this provision, to overcome the Goa crisis?

This is being debated here in the legal and political circles, after dissolving the 32-month old Assembly last week under Art 174 (2) B. The annual budget however is yet to be presented by the BJP government ruling the state.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar insists that he can get the budget presented and passed in the Parliament, in absence of the state Assembly. The legal experts contradict it, pointing out that this exercise can be carried out only under Art 356 and not when the House is dissolved under Art 174 (2) B.

"Mr Parrikar will have no other option than to resign while getting Art 356 invoked before 31 March", opined Uday Bhembre, editor of Sunaprant and a lawyer by profession, at a seminar organised by the Goa Union of Journalists to debate upon fall-outs of the dissolution.

Dr Kashinath Jalmi, general secretary of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, has described it as a state of ‘financial emergency’ by going for hasty dissolution without presenting the budget. The budget session was to begin on 13 March while the House was dissolved on 27 February.

In case Parrikar intends to go to the Parliament, Adv Cleofato Almeida Coutinho, another legal expert, feels the only option is to explore the power of Parliament under Art 249 to legislate in respect of a State subject in the "national interest".

While Art 249 has never been touched so far, the Rajya Sabha declares by a resolution supported by two-thirds majority of the members present and voting that it is necessary and expedient that the Parliament should make a law. But the BJP at the centre does not even have a simple majority in the upper House.

Rather than exploring this, Parrikar talks about two more options available with him, while stating that budget need not be presented before 31 March and non-passing of the budget is not a constitutional crisis. "What can form a constitutional crisis is the failure of the state to pay salaries and meet other expenses", he adds.

He thus plans to explore the first option to invoke Art 206 (c) to pass an expenditure grant to take care of state expenses for four months, before which fresh elections could be held. "The cabinet can approve it and an ordinance can be passed under Art 213, read with Art 162 of the Constitution", states Parrikar.

Quoting constitutional luminary M P Jain, Adv Coutinho however points out that there is a clear embargo on the power of the governor to enact the Finance Act or the Appropriation Act through the ordinances.

Prabhakar Timble, companion of Adv Coutinho, also rules out the second option of the chief minister under Art 267, to increase the contingency fund to the extent of vote on account with cabinet approval, followed by an ordinance. "To invoke this clause to solve the constitutional deadlock or political contingency would be perverse and a fraud on constitution", he quips.

According to both the legal experts, contingency is related to pre-prepared, pre-determined or pre-sanctioned financial statement. In the absence of the financial statement or budget, the contingency cannot be assessed.

While assuring Goans that an appropriate vote on account will be issued soon through an ordinance, Parrikar however states: "Let it not be forgotten that it is I, as the chief minister, ought to be more worried about the budget and not they". is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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