In what can be considered as a blow to Narendra Modi government, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment on Wednesday, restored the congress lead government in Arunachal Pradesh.
Wednesday’s verdict paves the way for the dismissed Congress government of Nabam Tuki to return to power and sets aside Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s message directing the manner of holding the proceedings of sixth session of the Assembly scheduled from January 14, 2016, to December 16-18, 2015.
The five-judge constitutional bench of the apex court delivered its verdict on the legality of the BJP government in Arunachal Pradesh after Arunachal went through a constitutional crisis last year which was followed by a imposition of Presidents rule by the central government
In its order the court said that Arunachal Pradesh governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s decision advancing session of the state assembly by a month is volatile of the Constitution and is liable to be quashed.
The Nabam Tuki-led Congress government was dismissed following days of turmoil after 21 of the 47 Congress MLAs rebelled against the chief minister. Arunachal Pradesh was placed under President’s Rule on January 26.
Just before the apex court had reserved its verdict on February 20 this year, rebel Congress leader Kalikho Pul was sworn in as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh with the support of 18 dissident Congress MLAs and two independents and 11 BJP MLAs who gave outside support in the 60-member Assembly.
Supreme Court was pleaded to decide whether the state Governor had the power to call a special session of the Assembly without consultation with the Cabinet or not.
In his plea Arunachal Speaker Nabam Rebia argued that Governors move was “politically motivated” and he was acting on the behest of the Centre to bring down a democratically-elected government in the state.
Arguing that Governor was well within the powers and President’s Rule was imposed only after complete failure of law and order. Centre supported the Governor in Supreme Court during the hearing.
Welcoming the apex courts verdict, Former CM Nabam Tuki said that court has today saved this country & it’s Constitution.
“It is a historic & remarkable judgement which was expected by the people of country. We will hold discussions with party MLAs & decide further course of action, we’ll do whatever is required legally,” said the former Arunachal CM Nabam Tuki
“Those who have trampled upon constitutional propriety and democratic norms have been defeated,” said Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi on Arunachal verdict.
BJP said that the decision of the Supreme Court is not a setback for the party and said that the crisis in Arunachal Pradesh occurred due to internal conflicts within Congress. However it has decided to file a review petition against the SC judgement after going through it in detail.
Reacting to the Court verdict Arunachal CM Pul, who had led the Congress rebels then, said, that his government will remain in power.
“That will be decided on the floor of the Assembly. Government runs only with the numbers. There is no threat to our government,” Pul told reporters in Guwahati.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was quick enough to react on the verdict. Kejriwal accused PM Modi of running the country without following constitution.
“Modi ji neither has faith in Constitution nor people’s mandate. He wants to run this country with dictatorial attitude,” said the Delhi CM after.
What did Bench say while delivering the verdict?
One- The order of the Governor dated December 9, 2015, advancing the session of Legislative Assembly from January 14, 2016, to December 16, 2015, is violative of Article 163 read with Article 174 of the Constitution and as such is liable to be quashed and the same is quashed.
Two- The message of governor directing the manner of conducting the proceedings of the sixth session of Legislative Assembly of Arunachal Pradesh from December 16-18, 2015, is violative of Article 163 read with Article 175 of the Constitution and as such is liable to be quashed and the same is quashed.
Three- All steps and decisions taken by the Legislative Assembly of Arunachal Pradesh in pursuant to Governor’s order of December 9, 2015, are unsustainable and liable to be set aside and as such it is set aside
Four-In view of the decision from one to three, status quo ante as it prevailed on December 15, 2015, is ordered to be restored.
Following is the sequence of events that led the then Speaker Nabam Redia to approach the Supreme Court.
December 9, 2015: Governor J P Rajkhowa fixed the resolution removing the Speaker from the office as the first item of business in the advanced Assembly session, which was held on December 16.
December 15, 2015: Speaker disqualifies 14 MLAs of the ruling Congress.
December 16, 2015: Deputy Speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok orders the removal of the Speaker, pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Assembly, held outside the Assembly hall.
On December 16 last year a special session of the assembly was held in a make-shift venue as the government and Speaker prevented the session from being held in the assembly.
Deputy Speaker T N Thongdok presided over the special session that was attended by 20 rebel Congress MLAs (of the total 42), 11 BJP MLAs and two Independents. The rebels, along with the 13 others, passed the impeachment motion. The special session also moved a no-confidence motion against Tuki. At the end of the session, Tuki was “defeated” in a floor test and the “House” “elected” Kalikho Pul as the new leader of the House.
December 17, 2015: Speaker Rebia moves High Court.
January 5, 2016: Justice B K Sarma of the Gauhati High Court stayed the disqualification of 14 Congress MLAs. The Speaker’s plea for his case to be heard in another court was turned down, prompting him to approach the Supreme Court.