Congress leader and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal (File photo)
Congress leader and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal (File photo)

Kapil Sibal, Vivek Tankha write to President alleging unconstitutional functioning of Madhya Pradesh govt

ANI | Updated: Apr 20, 2020 23:44 IST

New Delhi [India], April 20 (ANI): Senior lawyers and Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Vivek Tankha have written to President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, alleging 'undemocratic and unconstitutional functioning in Madhya Pradesh, not of a government, but of a one-man show.'
"Indore today is the epicenter of the spread of the virus hosting 80 per cent of Coronavirus infections. Bhopal earlier witnessed the collapse of the health department with the hierarchy of its officers infected. In the absence of a Health Minister, the infected personnel continued to discharge their duties. To halt the spread of the virus we need to test, test, and test. That is not happening because of the collapse of the administrative structure of the health department. Today the department in Bhopal is completely dysfunctional," the letter read.
The leaders contended that they had no wish to indulge in a blame game but "we need to attend to the prevailing administrative shortcomings to ensure the safety of our people."
"We wish to bring to your attention Article 163 of the Constitution which mandates a Council of Ministers to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions. The Governor cannot act without the advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister. Additionally, the proviso to Article 164(A) provides for the minimum strength of the Council of Ministers to be not less than twelve including the Chief Minister. Here the Council is missing, only the head exists. The Governor has therefore without jurisdiction acting on the advice of Shivraj Singh Chouhan alone promulgated two Ordinances referred hereinbelow : (1) The Madhya Pradesh Finance Ordinance, 2020 [No. 1 of 2020]. (2) The Madhya Pradesh Appropriation (Vote On Account) Ordinance, 2020 [No. 2 of 2020]," the letter read.
"These Ordinances authorise the state government to burden the State with an additional loan of Rs 4,443 Crore. It also allows for the withdrawal of Rs. 10,00,66,74,81,000 (One Lakh Sixty Six Crore Seventy Four Lakh Eight Thousand) from the Consolidated Fund of the State for the Financial Year 2020-21. This not only has grave fiscal implications on the fiscal health of the State but gives an unconstitutional act the colour of legality," it added.
The letter further said that it is a matter of constitutional shame that Madhya Pradesh holds the dubious record of a Chief Minister functioning without a government.
"That too for the longest period in our constitutional history. In fact, a Task Force has now been constituted in the State comprising of senior BJP leaders of which the Chief Minister is a mere member. This Task Force, led by the State BJP President is set up ostensibly to advise the State Government in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. This Task Force has no sanctity in law, cannot be held accountable, yet controls the functioning of the one-man non-government show; the death knell of democracy. The blatant exercise of such undemocratic decision-making cannot be countenanced," it stated.
Through the letter, the duo has urged the President to ensure that the state government constitutes a Council of Ministers, and is also directed to consider and pass the Vote-on-Account by following settled constitutional procedures and withdraw the "unconstitutional ordinances No. 1 and No. 2 of 2020." Failing which, according to the two, the President should summon a report from the Governor and then impose President's Rule if necessary in Madhya Pradesh "because of the complete breakdown of its constitutional machinery." (ANI)