New Delhi: Former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki on Thursday filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court challenging the promulgation of President’s rule in the crisis-hit state. The plea filed by the Congress leader is likely to be taken up for hearing on Monday by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar, along with other petitions moved by persons like Rajesh Tacho, Chief Whip of Congress Legislature party in the state assembly.
The plea has been filed after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Centre, had raised the objection that the earlier petitions have not challenged the imposition of President’s rule which was invoked after filing of those pleas. On Wednesday, the imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh had come under the scanner of the apex court which sought the report of Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa recommending central rule in the state, saying “it is too serious a matter”.
The bench had asked the Attorney General not to raise “technical objections” when he persisted with his plea arguing that “rules are rules” and they apply equally to all. It had then posted the matter for February one asking the Governor and the Ministry of Home Affairs to file responses by Friday, by when the petitioners have been allowed to amend their plea. The bench, for its own perusal, sought in a sealed cover the report and recommendation on imposition of the President’s rule.
“Unless we get the grounds for recommending the President’s rule, we cannot proceed. If grounds are not same in the proclamation then it is totally a different ball game,” the bench, also comprising justices Dipak Misra, MB Lokur, PC Ghose and NV Ramana, had said. The bench was also of the view that no interim order can be obtained unless the parties see grounds for proclamation for President’s rule. “We will not pass any order without hearing all the parties. It is a sensitive issue,” it had said.
A battery of senior lawyers including Fali S Nariman, Kapil Sibal, Rajeev Dhawan and Vivek Tankha had opposed the plea of governor seeking to maintain secrecy of his report and recommendation, saying that larger bench of more than five judges have already laid down the proposition on this aspect. The five-judge bench is examining the constitutional provisions on the scope of discretionary powers of Governor, amid continuing month-long impasse over Nabam Tuki-led Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh.
An earlier plea filed by Nabam Rebia, who was allegedly removed from the post of Speaker by rebel Congress and BJP MLAs in an assembly session held at a community hall in Itanagar on 16 December, has listed out legal questions, including the Governor’s power to convene the assembly session without the aid and advice of the government for adjudication by the apex court. It was also alleged that the Governor had advanced the assembly sitting from 14 January to 16 December without the aid and advice of the Chief Minister and his council of ministers.
Congress, which has 47 MLAs seats in the 60-member assembly, suffered a jolt when 21 of them rebelled. Eleven BJP MLAs backed the rebels in the bid to upstage the Nabam Tuki government. Later, 14 rebel Congress MLAs were disqualified. The Governor then called assembly session on 16 December in which Deputy Speaker revoked disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs and removed Rebia from the post of Speaker. This sitting was held in a community hall in Itanagar.