Battle for Arunachal goes on in SC; New plea by Cong

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Itanagar: File photo of the Mahila Congress workers holding placards protest against state Governor J P Rajkhowa  in front of Raj Bhawan main gate in Itanagar on Thursday, December 17, 2015. Photo - PTI

File photo of the Mahila Congress workers holding placards protest against state Governor J P Rajkhowa in front of Raj Bhawan main gate in Itanagar on Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Photo – PTI

A day after the Supreme Court sought the Governor’s report that led to the imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, former Congress CM of the state Nabam Tuki has filed another petition in the apex court. Tuki’s petition challenges the promulgation of President’s rule in the crisis-hit state.

The fresh plea is likely to be taken up for hearing on Monday by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar. The new petition will be heard along with other petitions moved by Rajesh Tacho, the chief whip of the Congress in the state.

Tuki’s plea was filed after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who represents the Centre, had raised the objection that the earlier petitions did not challenge the imposition of President’s rule which was invoked only after the earlier pleas were filed.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Supreme Court sought Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s report recommending central rule in the state while observing that “it is too serious a matter”.

“Unless we get the grounds for recommending the President’s rule, we cannot proceed. If grounds are not same in the proclamation then it is a totally different ball game,” the bench, comprising of justices Dipak Misra, MB Lokur, PC Ghose and NV Ramana said.

The court also sought replies from the Centre and the Arunachal Pradesh Governor by January 29 and posted the next hearing in the matter on February 1, by which time the petitioners could amend their plea.

While asking the Attorney General not to raise “technical objections”, the bench also said that no interim order can be obtained unless the parties saw grounds for proclamation for President’s rule.

FILE: Itanagar: File photo of the dissident MLAs of Congress party and BJP MLAs at a "special" Assembly session at a community hall, Naharlagun, in Itanagar on  Wednesday, December 16, 2015. Photo - PTI

File photo of the dissident MLAs of Congress party and BJP MLAs at a “special” Assembly session at a community hall, Naharlagun, in Itanagar on Wednesday, December 16, 2015.
Photo – PTI

“We will not pass any order without hearing all the parties. It is a sensitive issue,” the bench said on Sunday.

A group of senior lawyers including Fali S Nariman, Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan had opposed the plea of the Governor that sought to maintain secrecy of his report and recommendation.

Earlier in the week on Tuesday, President Pranab Mukherjee cleared Centre’s recommendation to impose President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh after the union cabinet had recommended it citing “political instability”.

In a dramatic political development last month, 20 rebel MLAs of the ruling Congress party, along with 11 BJP MLAs and 2 independent MLAs removed Speaker Nabam Rebia in a make-shift “Assembly” premises in a community hall in Itanagar.

The Governor had called the Assembly session on December 16 in which Deputy Speaker revoked disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs and removed Rebia from the post of Speaker. The total of 33 MLAs in the 60-member house then elected dissident Congress lawmaker Kalikho Pul as the new Chief Minister of the state.

(With inputs from PTI)