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Nagaland crisis: Breather for CM Liezietsu as high court stays assembly floor test

The stay will be in place till Monday, when the matter is expected to come up for hearing again.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2017 20:37 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Gauhati high court,TR Zeliang,Nagaland chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu
TR Zeliang hopes to make a comeback as the Nagaland chief minister. (HT Photo)

The Kohima bench of the Gauhati high court on Friday stayed governor PB Acharya’s directive that mandated a floor test for chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu by July 15.

The stay will be in place till Monday, when the matter is expected to come up for hearing again.

The petition filed by Liezietsu had argued that the governor’s order for a trust vote was “ex-facie unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary and violative of the basic features of the Constitution”. He said Acharya – without obtaining the views of the council of ministers – chose to impose the trial of strength “without any legal foundation and against constitutional norms” at a time when he was preparing for a by-election.

Liezietsu, who is not an elected member of the 60-member house, needs to win the by-poll from the Northern Angami-I assembly seat to continue as chief minister. The seat was vacated by his son, Khriehu, in June.

“The governor – through the impugned decision – has virtually sought to strangulate the will of the council of ministers, and used his office to suit his political needs,” the chief minister said, adding that the ill-timed floor test would deprive him of a shot at a free-and-fair election.

The court expressed the “tentative opinion” that an “interim was called for”, and stayed the governor’s directive till Monday.

Earlier in the afternoon, Liezietsu and his council of ministers visited Acharya at the Kohima Raj Bhavan soon after his arrival from Delhi. “The governor asked the chief minister to reconcile with the legislators. To this, he was told that the present crisis is an internal matter of the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) and not the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government,” a communiqué from the chief minister’s office said.

On Friday morning, a number of dissident NPF legislators led by former chief minister TR Zeliang left for Kohima after they were evacuated from a flooded resort in central Assam’s Kaziranga by boat. About 130 people – including 36 MLAs, NPF leaders and policemen – had checked into the resort on July 8.

Zeliang claims he has the support of 43 MLAs, comprising 36 NPF legislators and seven independents. He is also confident of gaining the backing of four BJP legislators, who have partnered with the NPF to form the DAN government.

First Published: Jul 14, 2017 20:36 IST