A governor must keep away from any disagreement or discontent within individual parties, and not get embroiled in political controversies, the Supreme Court held while restoring the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday.
The five-judge bench judgment on the political crisis that gripped the northeastern state last year has underscored that a governor must function within the constitutional framework. It said that the official, as an executive nominee appointed through the President’s pleasure, can issue orders on the functioning of a legislative assembly only on the aid and advice of the chief minister and his council of ministers.
The court further ruled that as the governor was not an elected representative, he/she cannot have an overriding authority over legislators chosen through a democratic process. “Allowing the governor to overrule the resolve and determination of the state legislature or the state executive will not harmoniously augur with the strong democratic principles enshrined in the provisions of the Constitution,” the bench, headed by justice JS Kehar, held.
The bench found fault with every decision that Arunachal Pradesh governor JP Rajkhowa took, causing the fall of Nabam Tuki’s government in the state. It said a “governor must keep clear of any political horsetrading and even unsavoury political manipulations” during the course of work.
The court declared Rajkhowa’s December 9, 2015, letter – which advanced the assembly session by a month and set out the manner in which the House must be conducted – as “unconstitutional”. The removal of speaker Nabam Rebia was one of the resolutions to be passed by the House, and Rajkhowa said it should be taken up for consideration ahead of any other business.
“The actions of the governor were certainly not in the language of the law or the spirit of parliamentary democracy and responsible government. In these circumstances, it must be held that the governor’s unilateral act of summoning the assembly is unconstitutional,” the bench, also comprising justices Dipak Misra, MB Lokur, NV Ramana and PC Ghose, held.