Can Jammu and Kashmir House Be Dissolved?

IAS Prelims 2023

As the political deadlock in Jammu and Kashmir continued over government formation, the legal fraternity is divided as to whether the state assembly has to be dissolved by the Governor before April nine when the six-month period since its last sitting lapses.

Former Advocate General Altaf Naik said as per the state Constitution, the Governor will have to dissolve the assembly if no elected government is put in place by April 9. “The six-month period for this purpose starts from the day last sitting of the legislature took place,” Mr Naik said.

However, another former Advocate General Ishaq Qadri and former Assistant Solicitor General of India Anil Bhan have a different view on the matter.

“Since the assembly is in suspended animation, the six month period for the purpose will start from the day Governor’s Rule was imposed in the state,” Mr Bhan and Mr Qadri said.

The Assembly is currently in suspended animation. Governor’s Rule was imposed on January 8.

Dissolution of the assembly will necessitate fresh polls.

According to Section 53 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, the Governor is bound to dissolve the assembly if more than six months lapse between the last sitting and first sitting of two sessions of the legislature.

In view of Section 53, April 9 will be the cut-off date for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP — or any other combination of parties — to cobble up a coalition government in the state. The last sitting of the state assembly was held on October 10.

“The Governor shall from time to time summon each House of the Legislature to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session,” reads subsection 1 of Section 53 reads.

The subsection 2 of the same section reads: “The Governor may from time to time- (a) prorogue the Houses or either House; (b) dissolve the Legislative Assemb1y.”

Governor’s Rule was imposed under Section 92(1) on January 8 in the wake of death of incumbent chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7 and the failure of PDP and the BJP to stake claim for formation of a new government.

The Governor’s Rule in the state will come to an end on July 7 as provided in Subsection Three of the Section 92 of the state constitution, which reads: “Any such Proclamation (Governor Rule) whether varied under subsection (2) or not, shall except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, cease to operate on the expiration of six months from the date on which it was first issued.”

While the PDP and the BJP are maintaining that their alliance has not ended, the president of the regional party, Mehbooba Mufti, has said the Centre needs to announce political and economic confidence building measures before a new government can be formed.