The Gauhati High Court provided respite to the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday, as it stayed all decisions including the removal of the Speaker at an unprecedented assembly session backed by the governor, which was held in a community hall and a hotel this week.
The court’s order added a twist to the political turmoil in the northeastern state that has also rocked Parliament and it came on a day BJP and dissident Congress MLAs passed a “no confidence” motion against the Nabam Tuki-led government, a day after they impeached Speaker Nabam Rebia.
The HC decision came on a case filed by Rebia late on Thursday evening, with the matter to be heard again on February 1.
“The judiciary has saved democracy,” Tuki told HT from Arunachal’s capital, Itanagar. “It is a victory of the Constitution, and our belief in the judiciary has increased manifold. The people have been reassured that no one can get away with illegal steps. The duty of the governor is to look after the interest of the state as a whole, not work as the agent of one party.”
He also wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, seeking their “support and timely intervention” while alleging that the political crisis was created by governor JP Rajkhowa.
As many as 34 members of the 60-member House, including 21 rebel Congress MLAs, on Thursday “elected” dissident Congressman Kalikho Pul as the new “chief minister”, even as Tuki and 26 supporting legislators boycotted the proceedings, calling them “illegal and unconstitutional”.
“We followed the composite floor test introduced by the Supreme Court in the case of Kalyan Singh versus Jagdambika Pal in the Uttar Pradesh assembly,” deputy speaker Thongdok said. “The motion was adopted since the situation in the state (Arunachal Pradesh) is similar.”
Pul said the legislature session was held at makeshift venues as the district administration sealed the assembly building on Wednesday following the Speaker’s instructions.
A clamorous Congress raised the issue in both Houses of Parliament, alleging efforts to “destabilise” its government there and targeting the Centre which said it had no role in the matter.
“How can the sitting of the House be done outside the assembly and in a private house?” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, who leads the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. “It has never been done in the history of independent India.”
Representing Rebia, former union minister and Congress leader Kapil Sibal argued in court that the governor’s December 9 order summoning a three-day session of the assembly from Wednesday was politically motivated and one-sided.
Rajkhowa had advanced the session, earlier scheduled from January 14-16, for the impeachment of Rebia, he contended.