The Supreme Court told dissident Congress MLAs from Arunachal Pradesh on Friday that it would examine if there was a “sinister” or “genuine” motive behind the governor’s decision to shift the assembly session from January 14 to December 16.
A constitution bench headed by Justice JS Kehar did not accept the rebel MLAs’ contention that the governor had absolute discretion in changing the dates, a key event that led to the state into a political crisis before it was put under President’s Rule.
“Courts can interfere if there is a perceived sinister motive,” the bench told senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi.
The Congress government in Arunachal was suspended after 14 of its legislators defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party and held a ‘session’ of their own outside the Assembly. They, along with the opposition BJP, also ‘selected’ a chief minister from among themselves. The SC is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the governor’s decisions to advance the session dates and recommend President’s Rule.
The judges asked Dwivedi what prompted the governor to prepone the session.
Dwivedi, on behalf of the breakaway group of Congress MLAs, continued to rely on constitutional provisions and said the governor had absolute immunity from judicial review of his actions.
But, the bench had another view. “Even assuming the governor had discretionary powers, yet, that may not perhaps justify his action of preponing the assembly session,” it told Dwivedi.
“Let us accept for arguments, the governor has a discretion... Is it such an expeditious discretion that a speaker’s power should be curtailed at any point of time (by governor) because one person has moved a resolution, or say two persons or three persons,” the bench wondered.