- The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Governor recently dissolved the State Assembly, which has been in suspended animation, shortly after rival alliances staked claim to form the government.
- The J&K Governor has passed this order in exercise of the powers conferred upon him by clause (b) of subsection (2) of Section 53 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.
- The J&K Assembly has 87 members and any party would require 44 MLAs’ support to form a government.
- Governor’s rule was clamped in J&K on June 19,2018 for a six-month period following the collapse of the PDP-BJP coalition government.
- The State Assembly was also kept in suspended animation so that political parties could explore the possibility of forming a new government.
- Rival alliances staking claim:
- According to PDP, it had the support of 15 MLAs from National Conference and 12 MLAs of the Congress, in addition to its own 29 MLAs, putting the total number at 56.
- People’s Conference (PC) chief Sajad Lone, who has two MLAs, claimed the support of 25 MLAs of the BJP and 18 more MLAs.
- According to a communication from the office of Governor, following are the main reasons for Governor dissolution of State Assembly:
i) The impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies including some which have been demanding dissolution of the Assembly shows the attempt to gain power rather than to form a responsive government.
ii) Reports of extensive horse trading and possible exchange of money to secure the support of legislators belonging to widely diverging political ideologies just to form a government. Such activities are not healthy for democracy and vitiate the political process.
iii) Serious doubts about the longevity of any such arrangement where there are competing claims of majority.
iv) The fragile security scenario in the state of Jammu and Kashmir where there is a need to have a stable and supportive environment for security forces which are engaged in extensive anti- militancy operations and are gradually gaining control over the security situation.
7. Thus the Governor came to the conclusion that, in this background the best course of action is to dissolve the assembly so as to provide stability and security to the state and hold elections at an appropriate time so that a government with a clear mandate is duly formed.
8. Model Code of Conduct:
- The Election Commission will examine whether the model code of conduct can be imposed in Jammu and Kashmir even before fresh elections are announced.
- The poll panel had recently decided that in states where assemblies are dissolved prematurely, the model code will come into force immediately.
- The poll code, which bars the caretaker government and the party in power from taking policy decisions, otherwise comes into force the day polls are announced by the EC.
- Telangana was the first state where the model code of conduct had come into effect before the assembly polls were announced.
- Significance of dissolution: The governor’s advice for dissolution of the assembly will pave way for elections in the state within the next six months. The tenure of the governor’s rule is ending next month, which will be followed by President’s rule.
- Supreme Court Observation:
- The Supreme Court in Rameshwar Prasad case (2006), held the dissolution of the Bihar state Assembly by then Bihar Governor Buta Singh as illegal and mala fide when parties opposed to the ruling dispensation at the Centre were close to staking a claim to form the government.
- 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.
- Way forward:
- 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.