The apex court on Thursday virtually paved the way for government formation in Arunachal Pradesh by vacating its order on maintenance of status quo after being satisfied with the Gauhati High Court order staying the disqualification of the 14 rebel Congress MLAs.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar, on perusing the records regarding disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs, said it is prima facie satisfied with the High Court order.
“Prima facie we are not inclined to interfere with the High Court order, we are satisfied with it. Having seen the original records which are put before us by the Registrar General of Gauhati High Court, the order of January 7 calls for no interference at this stage,” the Supreme Court bench said.
“Accordingly, the ad-interim order passed is vacated,” the bench also comprising Justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana ordered clearing decks for the government formation in the north-eastern state which has off-late led to the heightened stalemate between the government and opposition.
The bench also transferred the case regarding disqualification of the 14 legislators from the single judge to the division bench of the high court and asked it to expeditiously decide the matter within two weeks.
On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet had recommended revoking President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, a day after the Supreme Court refused to restrain the Governor from swearing in a new government in the state.
The cabinet meeting chaired by PM Modi had agreed that the decision to revoke the Constitutional provision was a matter between the Governor and the President. The cabinet, however, agreed on the recommendation to end Centre’s rule in the state which was imposed on January 26.
On Monday, 31 MLAs, led by Congress dissident Kalikho Pul, called on the Governor to stake claim for forming the next government in the state. Pul was accompanied by 19 rebel Congress MLAs along with 11 BJP legislators and 2 independent members.
After Pul moved to stake claim, Congress moved the apex court against the formation of a new government. But the Supreme Court refused to stop the Governor from swearing in Pul’s government.
Trouble began in the northeastern state last month when the ruling Congress, which had 47 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly, suffered a jolt when 20 of its lawmakers rebelled. The 20 rebel Congress MLAs, along with 11 BJP MLAs and 2 independent MLAs had removed Speaker Nabam Rebia in a make-shift “Assembly” premises in a community hall in Itanagar.
Then, a total of 33 MLAs in the 60-member house elected dissident Congress lawmaker Kalikho Pul as the new Chief Minister of the state. This political crisis finally led to the imposition of President’s Rule on January 26.
As of now, former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki reportedly has the support of only 26 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly.
(With inputs from PTI)