New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday faulted the Arunachal Pradesh governor for sending an agenda to the Speaker to be discussed in the Assembly session relating to disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs and said he had no business to send such a message.
A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Justices J.S. Khehar, Dipak Misra, Madan B. Lokur, Pinaki Chandra Ghose and N.V. Ramana made it clear to the counsel for the 14 MLAs that under the Constitution, the governor had a limited role in Assembly proceedings and this was to ensure that democracy survives.
The Bench told the counsel that the governor seemed to have exceeded his Constitutional brief by advancing the Assembly session, from January 14 to December 16, 2015, to decide the disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs and the resignation of two MLAs who had subsequently retracted their resignation.
Justice Khehar observed that it is only the Speaker who is empowered under the Constitution to decide the disqualification of MLAs under the anti-defection law and the governor has no role to play in it.
“The governor’s message interferes with the legislative process on the composition of the House. Composition is not within his realm. He (governor) is interfering. He is interfering in the 10th schedule (anti-defection law) if he is sending such a message. This message changes the composition".
"Speaker is an independent person, he is elected by a majority. You are saying he (governor) is not interfering. But when you say don’t change the composition, then you are interfering in the legislative functions of the House.”
Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi cited precedents when the governor had sent message on his own. The bench asked him “Some MLAs have resigned. Who is the governor to say don’t resign?. if they (legislators) want to resign they can resign. He can’t preempt the power of the Speaker.”