SC to examine validity of Arunachal governor decision on assembly

New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday said that it would examine whether the decision of Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P.Rajkhowa advancing the assembly session to December 16 to take-up the resolution for the removal of Speaker Nabam Rebia was valid or not.

“If the preponment of the session by the governor is bad, then everything flowing thereafter would be bad. Then we will consider only that,” said a constitution bench comprising Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh and Justice N.V.Ramana.

It said this as senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the court that the resolution by the 11 Bharatiya Janata Party legislators and two independents was sent to governor and not the secretariat of the state assembly as provided under the rules of the business.

However, one of the respondents represented by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade had reservation over the bench’s decision to limit its examination of the issues to the validity of the governor’s decision to advance the session to December 16 instead of waiting till scheduled date of January 14.

Contending that governor could not have acted on a resolution by the opposition BJP MLAs and two independents, Sibal said that the governor could only convene the session of the assembly on the advice of the government which had happened when January 14 was fixed as the date.

Governor Rajkhowa by his December 9, 2015, message had advanced the date of the convening of the assembly session saying that the first item to be considered would be the motion of no confidence against the speaker.

Besides this, governor in his message had said that until the session was prorogued, no presiding officer would alter the party composition of the house.

The court in a poser asked Sibal whether Speaker Rebia, as a matter of “constitutional propriety” should not have desisted from exercising his powers in disqualifying 14 rebel legislators knowing well that resolution expressing no-confidence in him has been moved.

At this, telling the court that interpretation of the constitution has to be to facilitate the functioning of democracy and not to pit one constitutional authority against the other, Sibal said: “Supposing there is a clear cut case of violation of the tenth schedule (of the constitution), should he (speaker) not act.” The tenth schedule provides for the disqualification of lawmakers on grounds of defection.

The apex court is hearing three petitions questioning, besides other things, the role of the Governor Rajkhowa in the power play in the ongoing political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh involving Congress’ rebel lawmakers Aand BJP MLAs on one side and the supporters of Chief Minister Nabam Tuki on the other.

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