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A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously quashed Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P. Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the Assembly session from January 14, 2016 to December 16, 2015, a move which triggered political unrest in the sensitive border State and culminated in the declaration of President’s rule on January 26.
A five-judge Bench, led by Justice J.S. Khehar, directed the immediate imposition of status quo ante as on December 15, 2015. This means that the Supreme Court has in unequivocal terms shown the door to the BJP-propped rebel Congress government of Khaliko Pul the door.
The Bench, in three separate judgments by Justices Khehar, Dipak Misra and Madan B. Lokur, paved the way for the return of Congress-led Nabam Tuki government to power.
The Bench, which was looking into the constitutionality of the Governor’s decision to override the authority of Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia and advance the Assembly session, was told by the Tuki government lawyers that the Arunachal Pradesh “experiment” by the NDA government at the Centre to topple State governments may prove “deadly” to the rule of law in the country and federal structure of the Constitution.
Justice Khehar, on February 22, the day the court reserved judgment on the question of the constitutionality of the Governor’s decision, assured the Congress lawyers of the power of the highest judiciary to put the clock back in the sensitive border State.
But the court, however, at the time did not deem it fit to intervene with the installation of Mr. Pul as Chief Minister on February 19, following the lifting of President’s rule, leaving many with their finger crossed on the fate of this case.