Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik should have given a chance to the PDP-led alliance to prove its majority on the floor of the House as per constitutional mandate before dissolving the state assembly, legal experts said on Thursday.
“The constitutional mandate and the Supreme Court guidelines were not followed while dissolving the assembly in the face of two persons staking claim for government formation,” former advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir Mohammad Ishaq Qadri told PTI.
Qadri said the Governor should have satisfied himself by seeking additional documentation in support of the claims made in letter for government formation.
“Both PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and (People’s Conference chairman) Sajad Gani Lone had sent letters. The Governor should have satisfied himself by seeking more documentary evidence in support of the respective claims and then given them a chance to prove their majority on the floor of the House,” he added.
Qadri said the assembly was kept in suspended animation for over five months with the aim of providing a chance for fresh government formation in the state.
“There was a fractured mandate in the 2014 assembly election and only an alliance of two or more parties could have formed the government as was done in 2015. Just because political parties with divergent ideologies coming together cannot be a reason for not allowing them to prove their majority,” he said.
Qadri expressed surprise that the decision to dissolve the assembly was taken within 35 minutes of Mehbooba staking claim for government formation.
“What material did the Governor get about horse-trading and use of money in government formation within 35 minutes that he decided to dissolve the assembly?” he asked.
Another former advocate general, Altaf Hussain Naik, echoed Qadri’s views.
“Normally, he should have given a chance to the person staking claim for government formation to prove the majority in the House. The constitutional process should have been followed,” Naik said.
He said the Governor should have at least sought a list of MLAs from the rival alliances who supported their respective claims for government formation.
Leading lawyer Zaffar Shah, though, offered a different opinion. He said the decision of dissolution of the assembly was up to the Governor’s satisfaction.
“There is no question of the Governor being bound to or not bound to give an opportunity for floor test to prove majority. If he is satisfied about use of money and horse-trading, based on material before him, he can dissolve the assembly,” he said.
Shah said the decision of dissolving the assembly was, however, open to judicial review. “The court can be approached for review of the material on the basis of which the decision to dissolve the assembly was made.”
In a surprise move, Governor Malik Wednesday night dissolved the state assembly, ending two days of hectic efforts by the PDP, Congress and the National Conference to put up an alliance for fresh government formation in the state.
Lone, whose party has two members in the assembly, had also staked claim for government formation by claiming support of 45 MLAs, including 25 of the BJP and 18 other MLAs whose names he did not provide.