President’s rule -Aru. Pradesh

Why imposed:
  • CM and Speaker are cousins leading to opposition from other MLAs
  • No session held in last 6 months
  • The State’s ongoing crisis has seen “Assembly sessions” held in a hotel and even a community hall and “impeachment” of the Speaker.
  • The crisis escalated when the rebels voted to remove the Chief Minister at an assembly session called by Governor JP Rajkhowa. The rebels met at a community hall because the state assembly had been locked up.
  • The Congress in Arunachal Pradesh is nearly split in half with 21 of 47 lawmakers teaming up with the BJP in December to remove the Speaker and the Chief Minister.
Constitutional Bench of HC is examining issue.
President Rule recommended by Cabinet.
SC judgement awaited. (See the Judgement in Bottom)
Basics : S.R. Bommai judgment –  The nine-judge Bench verdict in 1994 had held that the validity of a Proclamation for President’s Rule can be subjected to judicial review to find out if there was mala fide exercise of power. This view was reiterated in the 2006 Bihar Assembly Dissolution case judgment involving the then State Governor Bhuta Singh.
Even after President’s rule kicks in, the Supreme Court can revive the Legislative Assembly, which will not be dissolved but kept in a state of suspended animation, if it finds the President’s proclamation unconstitutional
Legal issue involved:
  • The crisis was precipitated when Governor J.P. Rajkhowa advanced the session scheduled for January 14, 2016 to December 16, 2015, and fixed a motion seeking the removal of the Speaker as the first item on the agenda. In that controversial sitting at a makeshift venue, the Speaker was ‘removed’ and a ‘no-confidence motion’ adopted against the Chief Minister. The Gauhati High Court has ruled that the Governor was justified in advancing the session by acting on his own discretion if he had reason to believe that the Chief Minister and the Speaker were stalling a particular motion. The constitutional question of whether the Governor can summon the legislature on his own and whether he can send a message to the Assembly on what motion it should take up is now before the Supreme Court.
  • Since Article 174 (1) was silent on whether the Governor should consult or not the State Cabinet before advancing dates of the Assembly session, it was presumed that aid and advice of the Chief Minister and Council was required to be taken.
SC acknowledged its mistake:
  • SC ordered Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P. Rajkhowa to respond why he recommended President’s rule in the sensitive border State
  • But, Article 361 (1) of the Constitution gives the President and the Governor protection from legal action. Under the Article, both the President and the Governor of a State “shall not be answerable to any court” for acts done in performance of their powers and duties. The Governor has complete immunity and a notice cannot be issued to him
  • Hence, SC recalls its notice.
SC decision on discretionary powers of Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa to summon or advance the assembly session
  • Governor’s decision of advancing session of the state assembly by a month is un Constitution and is liable to be quashed
  • All steps and decision taken by the Legislative Assembly pursuant to Governor’s December 2015 decision are unsustainable and have been set aside
  • Struck down removal of speaker Nabam Rebia and he should be restored back as Speaker of the House
  • It is for the first time in history that Supreme Court has put back a state government that had been dismissed by the Centre under the President’s rule (under Article 356)

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