“Going by its statements in print and electronic media, it appears the state government wants to call the assembly session to bring a confidence motion, but there is no mention of it in the proposal it has sent. If the state government wants to seek a confidence vote, then it can become a reasonable basis for calling the session at short notice,” the governor’s office said.
Sources said the Gehlot government’s fresh proposal could be for a session at seven days’ notice, albeit once again without committing itself to a trust vote.
Mishra’s rider for a session “at short notice” comes two days after the Gehlot government put in a “revised” cabinet proposal to convene the House to discuss the ongoing pandemic, take stock of the state’s finances and pass some bills.
Besides giving a 21-day notice, the “points” that the cabinet now needs to comply with include video-recording and live telecast of the House proceedings if the government chooses to go for a trust vote. The vote of confidence should be in yes-or-no format only, the governor’s directive states. The government must also commit in writing that social distancing norms will be adhered to during the session.
On CM Gehlot’s insistence on a special assembly session this week itself, the governor suggested that explicitly stating its intention to seek a trust vote would be a valid ground to convene the House at short notice.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan, Avinash Pande, said, “In the past 70 years, it has never happened that a majority government seeking an assembly session was denied this constitutional right. The governor is creating different hurdles for not calling the assembly session. A new tradition of denying constitutional rights is being set.”
New PCC chief and minister Govind Singh Dotasra said, “This will be the 5th session of the present state assembly. The four sessions held earlier were convened by the same governor at notices of less than 10 days. The 21-day notice period was not followed in any of those instances. So, why is the governor insisting on this condition now? Everyone understands why.”
Accusing the governor of “behaving like a political party”, Dotasra said, “He is resorting to unconstitutional methods.”
The Gehlot government had submitted its first formal request for an assembly session to Raj Bhavan last Thursday, at which the governor posed six questions and asked for a revised cabinet proposal. Gehlot submitted a second request on Saturday for an assembly session from July 31. In between, he accused Mishra of stonewalling democracy and said the government should not be held responsible in the event of a public gherao of Raj Bhavan.
As the battle dragged on, the government cited Article 174 of the Constitution to claim that the governor was bound by the cabinet’s recommendation and could not exercise discretion in taking a decision on whether an assembly session is required or not. The state also referred to a Supreme Court judgment in a 2016 case involving the deputy speaker of the Arunachal assembly versus (ex-speaker) Nabam Rebia & Bamang Felix.
In his reply, Mishra said he sought legal advice and, on examining paras 150 to 162 of the 2016 case, it was found that the governor was bound by cabinet recommendations under Article 174 (1) “only under ordinary circumstances”. He said that if the conditions were special, it would be his duty to ensure that the session is convened in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution, “while ensuring proper notice, security, independent will and free movement of the legislators”.
“Since the present circumstances are unusual, Raj Bhavan has advised the state government to act on three points and instructed it to submit the request again,” Raj Bhavan said in a statement.
Watch Rajasthan crisis: Governor Kalraj Mishra gives conditional nod for Assembly session