Aziz Qureshi, the Governor of Uttarakhand seems to be a thorn on the side of Modi government; refusing to resign as all others did, taking up the matter with the Supreme Court. He has challenged the government by citing the constitution rule that Governors are not servants of the Union government. It is only the President who can ask the Governor to quit, no one else. He has taken exception to the Home secretary who called him to put up his papers.
He briefly held additional charge of UP last month and was the one giving assent to Mohammad Ali Jauhar University (Amendment) Bill 2007 that gave minority status to the varsity promoted by the SP leader Azam Khan. He also stirred controversies by passing a comment about rapes in UP saying that ‘even God can’t stop rapes in UP’, has come back to haunt him.
In an unparallel step, Aziz Qureshi on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court questioning the Narendra Modi government’s nudge to quit the constitutional post.
NDA government seems to be targeting all the governors that were appointed during the UPA regime, many of them have resigned after NDA’s message to quit delivered through the home secretary. It is Aziz who decided to confront the call to quit and questioning the home secretary’s audacity in calling him up and asking him to put down his papers.
Now Aziz’s petition is listed for urgent hearing on Thursday, before a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha. The Uttarakhand governor has termed the home secretary’s phone call as “rank insubordination” and “audacious” in his petition.
He said that governor holds the office during the pleasure of the President and mentioned the Article 156(1) of the Constitution which states that “the governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President”. He added that he would hold office for five years if he continued to enjoy the confidence of the President. He also said that it is only the President who can ask him to quit and no one else. Governor was not an employee of the Union government, as has been consistently ruled by the Supreme Court.
Aziz also cited the Supreme Court’s judgement in 2010. He said that SC had decided a petition by BJP MP B P Singhal, who challenged the UPA government’s 2004 decision to remove Vishnu Kant Shastri (UP), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat), Babu Parmanand (Haryana) and Kidarnath Sahni (Goa). He reminded that in May 2010 order, the court had said governors were not employed of the Union government to warrant removal on the ground of loss of “confidence” in them.
The Constitution bench said, “While the President need not disclose or inform the cause for his removal to the governor, it is imperative that the cause must exist. If we do not proceed on that premise, it would mean that the President, on the advice of the council of ministers, may make any order which may be manifestly arbitrary or whimsical or mala fide.”
“Therefore, while no cause or reason be disclosed or assigned for the removal of exercise of such prerogative power, some valid cause should exist for the removal. Therefore, while we do not accept the contention that an order under Article 156 is not justiciable, we accept the contention that no reason need be assigned and no cause need be shown and no notice need be issued to the governor before removing a governor.”
The apex court clearly said that it would always presume a compelling reason for such an action of challenging the government’s removal and that the onus was on the aggrieved person to show that the removal was arbitrary. It also said that is only after he (aggrieved) established arbitrariness of the removal, a court would seek records from the government.
After Modi government came to power, the following quit: B V Wanchoo (Goa), B L Joshi (UP), M K Narayanan (West Bengal) and Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh). For Kamla Beniwal, the President had withdrawn pleasure and sacked her after her transfer from Gujarat to Mizoram.