Nainital: The Uttarakhand high court on Tuesday directed the state assembly to undertake a floor test on 31 March to verify the claim that the Congress still had the requisite majority in the House.

However, it also allowed the Congress members of legislative assembly (MLAs), who were suspended for their dissidence, to vote. This automatically put the onus on the Congress, since it will have to contend with the possibility of the dissidents voting against it in the floor test.

Both the Congress and the Union government are proposing to challenge the ruling, however for different reasons—injecting uncertainty into an already fluid political situation.

The Congress is questioning the Nainital bench of the Uttarakhand high court on its decision to allow the suspended MLAs to take part in the trust vote. The Union government, according to a person familiar with the developments who did not wish to be identified, is questioning the verdict on the grounds that no floor test can be undertaken when President’s rule is still in place.

“No court can issue a stay on the President’s rule in the light of the 1994 Supreme Court verdict in S.R. Bommai case. The question of proving majority cannot arise while the state is still under President’s rule," said senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi.

In that case, a nine-judge bench of the apex court had laid down guidelines to prevent the centre from potentially misusing the power to impose President’s rule under Article 356 of the Constitution.

Tuesday’s order said that the floor test would take place on 31 March and registrar general of Uttarakhand high court would be present as an observer.

“Congress and our government have full respect for the judiciary. We still do not have the full judgement of the high court but the part of the order available shows that the court holds the centre’s decision wrong," Harish Rawat, former chief minister of Uttarakhand, told reporters in Dehradun on Tuesday.

“Our fight is not against any person but the powers which are out to demolish the Constitutional institutions. Such powers have received a tremendous setback. After this (court verdict), there will be a stop on attempts to destabilize other opposition-ruled state governments," he added.

The floor test, which was earlier scheduled for 28 March but was left infructuous owing to the imposition of President’s rule the previous day, is, given that suspended MLAs can vote, weighed against the Rawat-led Congress government.

Rawat on Monday had given a letter of support signed by 34 MLAs which includes 27 from Congress, six legislators from the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) and one independent whereas the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 28 MLAs and the potential support of the nine Congress MLAs.

Uttarakhand is a 70-member assembly where the half-way mark to win the trust vote would be 36.

“The CM had earlier also twice agreed to give a floor test. The only difference is now its 31 March instead of 28 March. The court has allowed only for the purpose of counting the suspended MLAs and has added that this will be subject to the final outcome," senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is also the counsel who filed the petition on behalf of Rawat, told reporters after the court order.

Rawat had moved the Uttarakhand high court challenging the President’s rule where he described the imposition of President’s rule in the state as illegal and an attempt by the BJP to form the government in the state.

On Sunday, the centre imposed President’s rule in Uttarakhand on the grounds of “breakdown of governance" after a political crisis was triggered by a rebellion in the ruling Congress party.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a public interest litigation next week which has challenged the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand.

Congress general secretary Ambika Soni has said that the party was considering legal opinion on approaching the division bench against allowing disqualified rebel MLAs to participate in the voting.

Senior leaders of the BJP said the Congress party should stop blaming the party for the rebellion.

“We have not seen the court order. We will first read the court order and then comment on the issue. The Congress should not blame the BJP for the rebellion in their party. Congress should put its house in order rather than blaming BJP," said a senior leader of the BJP.

PTI contributed to the story.

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