Thursday, August 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Gujarat poll: SC hearing on Aug 26
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
The Supreme Court will hear on August 26 the Presidential reference regarding the standoff between the Vajpayee government and the Election Commission over early Assembly elections in Gujarat.

The hearing was fixed today after consultations with Mr Chief Justice B N Kripal who is attending a global law conference in Johannesburg.

The Presidential reference, signed by President A P J Abdul Kalam under Article 143 of the Constitution, had reached the apex court yesterday.

Article 143 envisages that ďif at any time, it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen or is likely to arise, which is of such a nature and such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the apex court on it, he may refer the question to the court for consideration and the court may after such hearing, as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.Ē

The Centre has sought the apex courtís opinion on three issues:

(i) Whether Article 174 (1) of the Constitution, providing that not more than six months should elapse between two sittings of contiguous sessions of the Assembly, is mandatory.

(ii) Whether the position of Article 174 (1) can yield to Article 324, which authorises the EC to supervise and conduct elections, and

(iii) Whether the ECís suggestions or situation created due to its order could be a valid ground for imposition of Presidentís rule under Article 356 of the Constitution.

Although the EC decision is not binding on the Government, it acts as a moral force and is difficult to defy.


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