NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the status quo to be maintained in Arunachal Pradesh, even as the Cabinet decided to recommend the revocation of President’s rule. So, for now, no new government can be formed in the State.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar summoned all Assembly records on the disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs by former speaker Nabam Rebia. The interim order came after senior lawyers F S Nariman and Kapil Sibal, appearing for Arunachal Congress leaders, sought the maintenance of the status quo till their plea for restraining Governor J P Rajkhowa from swearing in a new government was decided. The court also directed the Secretary-General of the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly and the Gauhati High Court registry to furnish records on the disqualification of the rebel MLAs.
“We are of the view that it is essential to peruse the original record pertaining to the disqualification of the 14 MLAs. The record pertaining to the proceedings conducted by Speaker Nabam Rebia, under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution pertaining to the disqualification of the 14 MLAs, held on December 14 and 15, 2015, be produced in this court in a sealed cover at the earliest, preferably by 10.30 am on February 18, by the Secretary of the State Legislative Assembly, in whose official custody, we are informed, the original record is available,” the bench said.
The Constitution bench added that some part of the records was also in the safe custody of the Gauhati High Court and has been retained in a sealed cover.
“The Registrar-General of the Gauhati High Court is directed to ensure that the sealed record pertaining to the disqualification of the 14 MLAs is produced in this Court at the earliest, preferably by 10.30 am on February 18. In the meantime, the parties before this court shall maintain the status quo,” the bench said.
When the apex court, which is hearing a batch of pleas on the constitutional powers of Governors, resumed proceedings after lunch, advocates Nariman and Sibal mentioned that the Union Cabinet had on Wednesday recommended the revocation of President’s rule in the state.
Both the senior lawyers requested the Bench to consider their plea for interim relief, saying they apprehend that by Thursday morning a new CM would be sworn in. Nariman said the Governor on January 26 dismissed the Chief Minister and his council of ministers even when the Assembly was in suspended animation. “The Governor cannot pass any such order during the subsistence of proclamation,” he said.