The Gauhati High Court on Tuesday stayed the disqualification of 14 dissident Congress MLAs from Arunachal Pradesh assembly by Speaker Nabam Rebia during the state’s political crisis in December last year.
Justice B K Sharma, hearing a writ petition stayed the speaker’s order disqualifying the MLAs on December 15 and issued notice to the respondents. He fixed January 7 as the next date of hearing.
The writ was filed by dissident Congress MLAs Pema Khandu and 13 of his colleagues, who were disqualified by Rebia under 10th Schedule of Constitution. They contended that the order of disqualification was passed by the speaker in violation of natural justice without giving them an opportunity of hearing.
A political crisis was triggered in Arunachal Pradesh in December with 21 of the 47 Congress MLAs in the 60-member house, along with 11 BJP and two Independent MLAs, extending support to dissident Congress leader Kalikho Pul. Pul was elected the ‘chief minister’ in a session, advanced by Governor J P Rajkhowa to December 16 from January 14, and held in makeshift premises.
Rebia had then filed a petition challenging the governor’s notification of December 9 advancing the assembly session and also the notification issued by Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thondok revoking the suspension of 14 MLAs.
The writ petition had also challenged the order of the Deputy Speaker for holding of the session at a new place and the decision(s) of the December 16 session.
Justice Hrishikesh Roy after hearing the case on December 17 had issued notice and in the interim kept in abeyance the impugned decisions of the assembly passed in the session on December 16 and had fixed the case for hearing on February 1.
A batch of Interlocutory Applications has also been filed in the high court by Deputy Speaker and some MLAs to vacate or modify the court’s earlier order of keeping the assembly’s December 16 proceedings in abeyance.