A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning unanimously ruled to restore the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh, calling the decision to dismiss the government “illegal and unconstitutional”. The bench has said that all steps and decisions taken by the legislative assembly after the governor’s December 9 order were unsustainable and liable to be set aside.
The state has been under president’s rule since January 26, when the Nabam Tuki-led Congress government was dismissed after 21 of 47 lawmakers rebelled against the chief minister. Governor J.P. Rajkhowa had then brought forward the state assembly session, in which opposition legislators, along with the rebels, “removed” Tuki and house speaker Nabam Rebia.
The governor had directed that these assembly proceedings take place in a community centre with a different speaker to avoid “bias”. The leader of the dissident faction, Kalikho Pul, was sworn in as chief minister on February 19, with support of the 20 Congress rebels and 11 legislators of the BJP. But the Supreme Court in its ruling today said the way these proceedings were conducted was unconstitutional.
The verdict restores the political status quo in the northeastern state as of December 15, 2015. The bench headed by justice J.S. Khehar said the “clock should be turned back” in Arunachal Pradesh, reported India Today.
“It is a victory of democracy, the law has protected us and protected our country,” Tuki told NDTV.
Earlier during the hearing, when the Congress informed the court about the alleged illegal swearing in of the new government, the top court had said that it had the powers to reinstate the Tuki government if it found that the governor exceeded his powers.
The plea in the Supreme Court filed by Rebia argued that the governor’s move was “politically motivated” and he was acting on the behest of the Centre to topple the democratically-elected government.
This is the second blow to the Narendra Modi-led BJP government on the question of president’s rule, after the apex court already dismissed president’s rule in Uttarakhand earlier this year.
(With PTI inputs)