- After Uttarakhand verdict, Congress questions President's role
- President had sanctioned central rule on government's recommendation
- Pranab Mukherjee should have used his discretionary powers, say critics
Congress sources say how the episode has played out is evidence of a big error in judgement when Mr Mukherjee signed off on the Centre's controversial recommendation. "I just wish that the President of India would have held his hand rather than sign the proclamation order on that fateful Sunday, he could have just waited for a day," the party's Manish Tewari told NDTV after the trust vote.
Today, the party refused to comment on Mr Mukherjee, a Congress veteran who took charge of the largely ceremonial post in 2012 after decades of experience in the government.
Uttarakhand was placed under President's Rule on March 27, a day before Harish Rawat was to take a trust vote. Rival parties called it a sinister attempt to take control of opposition-ruled states.
The decision was challenged by the Congress before the Uttarakhand High Court, which agreed that it was unjustifiable. Harish Rawat finally won a trust vote held yesterday on the Supreme Court's order.
His wife Renuka Rawat said: "President should perhaps have deliberated more on this."
Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said the President had limited options.
"Someone may say the President should have sent the file back to the government. But what if the government sends it back? The President has to sign it," Mr Sorabjee told NDTV.
The BJP-led government shouldn't have rushed to impose central rule on the verge of a floor test, he said.
"It gave an impression that the government wanted to preempt the floor test," Mr Sorabjee said, adding, "governments should act with caution."
Mr Mukherjee's predecessor APJ Abdul Kalam confronted a similar moment in his presidency after the Supreme Court struck down the dismissal of the Bihar government in 2005. Dr Kalam shared in a book in 2013 that he thought of quitting at the time. The former president had signed off on the Congress government's recommendation with great reluctance on the advice of then prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Former additional solicitor general Raju Ramachandran, more scathingly, said: "I am disappointed... our President who is a constitutionally correct person should have exercised his discretionary powers."
He added, "the office of the President has moral authority and the President should exercised it by questioning the Government."
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