Governors no longer protecting law, acting at behest of Centre: Kapil Sibal

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal addressing a press conference in New Delhi. File Photo: PTI

The Congress on Friday attacked Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra for not calling an assembly session by accusing him of abdicating his constitutional obligation and acting on the behest of the central government.

The party also questioned the Rajasthan High Court's order maintaining status quo on the disqualification notice issued by the state assembly speaker to 19 dissident Congress MLAs, including Sachin Pilot.

"There is today a new definition of democracy and a new way of functioning of governors of states in this country. Governors are supposed to uphold the Constitution and the laws, but governors in this country are acting at the behest of the Union government, Congress leader Kapil Sibal told a virtual press conference.

He said one has seen the conduct of governors in the past, including that in Arunachal Pradesh, and also of speakers. Now, one is seeing the role of the governor of Rajasthan, Sibal said.

"Governors are no longer protectors of the rule of law, but they are protectors of the party in power," he said.

The Rajasthan governor has not responded to the cabinet's decision to convene the assembly session, he said, adding that Governor Mishra has no discretion in the matter.

"If governors are going to flout the law and if the courts are not going to accept precedent, then why are institutions being set up? Why did our forefathers set up these institutions?" Sibal asked.

He also said may be lawyers should take their robes off since high courts are no longer bound by even the constitution bench judgments of the Supreme Court.

"This is the new definition of democracy," Sibal said, adding that the governor not calling the assembly session despite the cabinet's recommendation is against a five-judge order of the Supreme Court in the Nabam Tuki case of Arunachal Pradesh.

Whether the Congress would move the Supreme Court against the governor, Sibal said, "The Congress will take whatever action it has to take in this regard. What Rajasthan governor has done is something that is unprecedented."

The Rajasthan High Court passes status quo orders against the Constitution bench judgment of the Supreme Court and constitutional authorities act at the behest of the government, he said.

"Why should lawyers argue? Lawyers are anguished. Why this charade. Maybe, it is time for lawyers to take their robes off," Sibal said.

"If the high court is going to pass this kind of order, what's the point in arguing before the court. Forget the law, tell the people of the country what is happening in the country," the former union minister said.

When asked to spell out the party's strategy in the wake of the developments, he said, "It is not something that I can discuss at a press conference."

Congress leader Anand Sharma on Twitter said, Supreme Court is the last hope to save constitutional democracy. India is watching whether constitutional bench judgements and supreme court settled laws on floor tests will be honoured or not?

The brazen attempt to topple an elected government with a popular mandate and majority is a shameful assault on democracy, he said.

We are witness to both constitutional immorality in Rajasthan. Judiciary is the custodian of Constitution and must uphold it in letter and spirit, Sharma said.

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