Governor can’t summon assembly session on his whims, fancies: SC

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New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday said Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa can’t summon on his “whims and fancies” the assembly session to test the majority of Chief Minister Naban Tuki’s government (since dismissed).

“You (governor) can’t ask (the house to assemble) on your whims and fancies,” an apex court constitution bench comprising Justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, Dipak Misra, Madan B. Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and N.V. Ramana observed.

The court’s observation came in the course of the submissions made by senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for 14 MLAs disqualified by Speaker Nabam Rabia, who defended the governor’s action to summon an assembly session on December 16 at a community hall in Itanagar.

Dwivedi contended that if the governor is satisfied that the chief minister has lost the majority support in the assembly he could ask the latter to convene the assembly session to prove his majority.

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If the chief minister fails to do so, the governor has three options – dismiss the government under Article 164 (1) of the constitution, send a report to the president invoking Article 356 or call the session of the assembly.

As Justice Khehar observed that the governor could not summon the assembly on his whims and fancies, Justice Dipak Misra observed that the “occasion has not arisen here (in the case of Arunachal Pradesh)”.

In another poser, the bench asked Dwivedi: “Who has the primacy in such a situation?” As the senior counsel said that “primacy is with the elected government”, the court asked if there was any discretion with the governor.

Dwivedi reiterated that if the chief minister failed to convene an assembly session, the governor in exercise of his discretionary power was entitled to call the assembly session.

In a related development, Speaker Nabam Rabia has moved the apex court to seek status quo in the matter.

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Senior counsel Fali S. Nariman told the court that Deputy Speaker T. Norbu Thongdok had written to Governor Rajkhowa that he was the speaker and sought records pertaining to the speaker’s office as custodian of the assembly. Nariman said the governor had sought legal opinion on Thongdok’s plea.

Making it clear that it would not pass orders on a daily basis on the affairs of Arunachal Pradesh, the court said it will decide when Rabia’s plea filed on Monday evening is put up before the bench.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court that the offices of the chief minister and other ministers have not been sealed as contended by the petitioners who challenged the imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

Rohatgi said documents and files allegedly taken into possession on the governor’s instructions ran into one lakh pages, adding that the petitioners, including Congress Party’s chief whip in Arunachal Assembly Rajesh Tacho, should indicate what documents they required and the same would be furnished to them.

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Making it clear that the list provided by the attorney general was not exhaustive, the court said that the petitioners would be provided with full details of the documents in the possession of the state and they would then indicate which documents were required.

“You give the whole list. This is not the whole list. Give the entire list (of the documents connected with the matter before the court),” the bench told the attorney general.

The constitution bench is hearing petitions filed by the Congress leaders challenging Governor Rajkhowa’s report to recommend the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, subsequent presidential proclamation and other matters rooted in the political imbroglio.

The hearing in the case will continue on Tuesday.

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