Why SC's Arunachal Pradesh verdict is a rude wake-up call for BJP

The apex court also chastised governor JP Rajkhowa.

 |  3-minute read |   13-07-2016
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In a major setback to the BJP-led government at the Centre, the Supreme Court on July 13 ordered restoration of the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh. It quashed all decisions of governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa that had led to the fall of Nabam Tuki government in the state in January. The apex court held the governor's decisions as "violative" of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court's verdict came as a shot in the arm for the Congress, paving the way for the return of its dismissed government.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi posted a tweet hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The landmark unanimous judgement by a five-judge bench set aside, among other things, Rajkhowa's message directing the advancement of the session scheduled from January 14, 2016 to December 16-18, 2015, and the manner of holding the proceedings of sixth session of the Assembly.

The constitution bench, headed by Justice JS Khehar, ordered that status quo ante as prevailed on December 15, 2015 be restored in Arunachal Pradesh Assembly.

This is the second major blow for the Centre from the Supreme Court, which had only in May ordered a fresh floor test in Uttarakhand Assembly that led to the return of the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat and lifting of the President's Rule imposed on March 27.

Reading out the operative portions of the main judgement, Justice Khehar said the order of the governor dated December 9, 2015, advancing the session of Legislative Assembly from January 14, 2016, to December 16, 2015, was "violative of Article 163 read with Article 174 of the Constitution".

"Secondly, 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," the bench said.

Thirdly, the bench said "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".

Finally, the bench observed: "In view of the decision from one to three, status quo ante as it prevailed on December 15, 2015, is ordered to be restored."

nabamtuki130716mb_071316035924.jpg Former chief minister of Arunachal, Nabam Tuki, who will hope to return to his chair following the Supreme Court's verdict.

Timeline of crisis in Arunachal Pradesh

December 9, 2015: Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa fixed the resolution removing the Speaker from the office as the first item of business in the advanced Assembly session, which was held outside the Assembly hall on December 16.

December 15, 2015: Speaker Nabam Rebia disqualifies 14 rebel MLAs of the ruling Congress.

December 16, 2015: Deputy Speaker, Tenzing Norbu Thongdok orders the removal of the speaker, in pursuant to the resolution adopted by the Assembly, held outside the Assembly hall.

December 16, 2015: Special session of the House held in a community hall as the government and speaker prevented the session from being held in the Assembly.

Deputy Speaker TN Thongdok, believed to be on the anti-Tuki side, 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 CM 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 BK Sarma of the Guwahati 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.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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