Arunachal Political Battle, case shifted to Constitutional bench

New Delhi

The Supreme Court  referred to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions arising out of certain orders passed by the Gauhati High Court in the ongoing political battle in Arunachal Pradesh. Noting that the matter related to constitutional provisions on the rights of the governor, the speaker and deputy speaker, a bench headed by Justice JS Khehar said it needed to be decided by a larger bench.

The counsel for speaker Nabam Rebia who was allegedly removed by 14 rebel Congress and BJP MLAs, the deputy speaker and the governor agreed with the suggestion that the matter should be heard by a five-judge constitution bench. Rebia had disqualified the MLAs on December 15 last year, a day before the assembly session governor JP Rajkhowa had summoned.

As the bench talked of referring the issue to a larger bench, senior lawyers FS Nariman, Kapil Sibal and Harish Salve and others representing various parties rushed to Chief Justice of India TS Thakur’s bench. They demanded urgent setting up of the constitution bench, saying the matter needed to be decided at the earliest. The CJI said an early decision would be taken.

The top court on Wednesday ordered that the state assembly would not be convened till January 18 and allowed Rebia to take back his plea against an administrative order of Gauhati high court acting chief justice BK Sharma. Rebia alleged that Sharma had “erroneously rejected” his plea, filed on the judicial side, in administrative capacity.

The petitions were triggered by alleged removal of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia followed by certain orders passed by the Gauhati High Court and decisions taken by the Governor and the Deputy Speaker.

He was removed as Speaker by 14 rebel Congress MLAs, disqualified by the Speaker, and BJP MLAs on December 16 in an Assembly session presided over by the Deputy Speaker in a community hall in Itanagar.

A week after staying the disqualification of 14 Arunachal Pradesh Congress MLAs, the Gauhati high court on Wednesday vacated an interim order that kept in abeyance the state’s assembly session from December 16-18 last year. The ruling was seen as a blow to Arunachal Pradesh CM Nabam Tuki who has the support of only 26 MLAs in the 60-member house.

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