SC refuses to restrain Governor from swearing-in new CM in Arunachal

Supreme Court also declined Congress prayer for maintaining status quo in crisis-hit Arunachal Pradesh.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to pass an interim order on a plea of Congress leaders that Arunachal Pradesh Governor J P Rakhowa be restrained from swearing in a new government in the politically-fragile state which is now under President's rule.

The five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar also declined the prayer of Congress leaders that status quo be maintained in the crisis-hit state and no new government formation be permitted.

"We have heard your arguments on injunction. We don't propose to pass any order and we will hear the matter on merits," the bench, also comprising justices Dipak Misra, M B Lokur, P C Ghose and N V Ramana, said.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who rushed to the court after coming to know that Congress leaders were seeking status quo on possible political developments in the state, said the courts cannot "pre-empt" a constitutional authority from taking any decision.

"The decision of the constitutional authority can be annulled by the court, but this application is totally misconceived. Either today or tomorrow, President's Rule has to be revoked and the government has to be formed," he said while opposing the application in which Congress leaders have expressed apprehension that the proclamation of central rule is likely to be withdrawn.

The bench then told senior lawyers Fali S Nariman and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Arunachal Pradesh Congress leaders, that the only order, which it had deemed fit at this juncture, has been suggested and if these leaders do not accept it, then they should argue on merits.

During the hearing, Sibal cited a purported press note, issued on behalf of the Governor and said how can the Governor swear in a person as the Chief Minister, a rebel Congress leader who has been disqualified from the House.

Sibal sought an order to ensure that no new government is sworn-in in the state till the apex court decides on the petitions.

The bench then sought Attorney General's view asking what the Parliament would do, if it passes some interim orders on the plea of Arunachal Congress leaders.

President's Rule is yet to be affirmed by Parliament and whatever is the verdict of this court, the only answer will be the floor test, Rohatgi replied.

"Whatever is the verdict of the court, the only answer will be floor test and the ultimate answer will be the floor test. Whether 'A' becomes the Chief Minister or 'B' becomes Chief Minister, it will be decided on the floor of the House," he said.

There was exchange of words between the senior lawyers appearing for both sides on the authenticity of the press note purportedly issued by the office of Rajkhowa.

Nariman said he had information that the Governor has made a recommendation about revoking President's Rule in the state and the press note substantiated it.

T R Andhyarujina, who represents the Governor, said till now, the proclamation is very much in place and the assembly stands in "suspended animation".

"Yesterday some leaders have met the Governor but he has categorically told them that nothing could be done till the proclamation is revoked. No report of Governor recommending revocation has been made till now," Andhyarujina said.

Sibal said at present, they were not asking for any order on the proclamation as they also do not wish to pre-empt the actions of the President on recalling of the proclamation. The bench then asked, "what does this status quo mean then?"

"We have nothing to do with the proclamation but the court can't allow a person to be sworn-in as a Chief Minister who is disqualified," Sibal argued, adding that Congress leaders be given an opportunity to approach the Governor once the proclamation is revoked.

The bench observed that this injunction cannot be granted and Congress leaders were at liberty to approach the Governor. It asked the Attorney General whether a person, who is disqualified from the House, can be asked not to be sworn in. No, in that case, the court would get itself into the politics by suggesting whom to appoint or whom not to, Rohatgi said.

"The subject matter of disqualification can be adjudicated by the court but it can't suggest who to appoint as Chief Minister or who not to," Rohtagi said.

The bench is hearing a batch of pleas on constitutional powers of the Governors and would continue the hearing tomorrow.

( Source : PTI )
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